PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte expressed his full support to Davao City's initiative to push for a localized peace talks with the New People's Army (NPA), as he reiterated his call for them to surrender and go back to the mainstream society with livelihood and financial assistance waiting for them.
"Itong kay Inday (Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio) na local initiative, I am encouraging her. And to the New People's Army, do not take it so badly. Wala namang pilitan ito eh, iyong gusto lang magpahinga," Duterte said in a press conference at Francisco Bangoy International Airport (FBIA) upon his arrival from his two-day working visit in Japan.
In February this year, the President lifted the ceasefire and eventually terminated the peace talk that reached fifth round with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) following the series of atrocities they made and attacks against government troops and militiamen.
He added that he is not yet ready to enter the peace negotiation, saying that possibly it will take more time.
"You can just imagine, we are fighting the New People's Army. At this stage, I am not ready to talk to them because it is not good for the country. Eh kung para lang sa bayan, okay ‘yan," he said.
Duterte urged the rebels anew to lay down their arms and surrender to authorities, vowing to provide them with livelihood and housing opportunities.
"If you're tired of killing a human being, you can always go back mainstream. Alagaan ko kayo," he added.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is pushing for local peace talks with the NPA after President Duterte bared that he no longer wants to pursue the negotiations with the communist group.
The Presidential daughter said that they are ironing out the system and provisions of the local peace talks. She earlier said that as the mayor, it's her responsibility to pursue peace for her constituents that is why they are making a move to reach out with the lefts and meet halfway to address the root cause of the armed struggle.
The mayor formed a body called the Davao City Peace Committee or DC-PEACE through the Executive Order No. 34. The body is designated to discuss strategic plan on how to negotiate with the reds for the localized peace talks here.
It is composed of retired judge Ridgway Tanjili who is the DC-PEACE chairperson, Santiago as technical consultant; Mayor Duterte’s Chief of Staff lawyer Raul Nadela; Archbishop Romulo Valles; Barangay Captain Jessielito Areja of Malabog; Ma. Luisa Bermudo of the City Social Services and Development Office; and lawyer Elisa Lapina from the City Legal Office.
The peace panel identified three local commanders of the NPA in Davao City who could be tapped for the possible localized peace talks.
The next meeting of the peace paned is scheduled on November 17.