THE military in Davao region support the permanent termination of peace talks as President Rodrigo Duterte ended the peace negotiation of the government with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Ezra Balagtey said during a press briefing Wednesday, March 27, that they will adhere to the decision of their commander-in-chief.
“This is just one track of achieving peace dito sa ating bansa and whatever ‘yong thrust ng ating Presidente, we will support as far as localized peace talks is concerned. Nakikita natin dito yong importante na role ng mga local government units because they are the champions in the implementation of peace initiatives in their respective localities,” Balagtey said.
Duterte, through a proclamation signed in November 2017, officially terminated his administration's peace negotiations with the communists. One reason when the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP's) armed wing, the New People's Army, launched a series of attacks against the state forces despite the ongoing talks.
"I would like to announce that I am no longer entertaining any interventions or maybe persuasions in this democratic state of the Republic of the Philippines. My sense is that you can maybe talk to the next president of this Republic one day," Duterte said.
Task Force Davao commander Colonel Nolasco Mempin, for his part, said that he respected the decision of Duterte.
“Alam naman natin na si President Duterte, nandon ang puso niya sa ating mga kapatid na naliligaw but dealing with the NDF consultants na sinasabi, sina Joma Sison, siguro until such time na makita nila na seryoso talaga itong mga NDF sa negotiation,” Mempin said.
In previous peace talks, Mempin said that the communist has only taken advantage of it “to gain strength” in organizing its supporters and strengthen their recruitment whenever they feel being defeated on the ground.
If the communist movement is sincere in attaining peace, Mempin said that they must adhere to the agreement by avoiding their attacks and other illegal activities.
“Yong sa military talaga kung pwede talaga na dire-diretso ang focus military operations. Kung seryoso talaga sila sa peace talk, i-abandon nila ang armed struggle in terms of reforms na sinasabi nila,” Mempin said, adding that only then could both parties really talk for long lasting peace.
He also said, "Yon ang gusto nila - pagbabago, kaunlaran but ang ginagawa naman nila, tuloy-tuloy ang opensiba against the government forces. ‘Yong extortion nila, panunonog nila, paano nila masasabi nila na seryoso sila sa objective ng long lasting peace?”