Department of the Interior and Local Government OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Ano assures the safety of communist leaders should peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines be held in the country as proposed by the President.
“To hold the formal negotiations in our country will not kill or paralyze the peace talks but will, in fact, facilitate negotiations that will hopefully end this decades-old armed conflict that has brought so much misery to our country," he says.
The DILG Chief, who is a retired chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), asserts that holding the talks in the country is not only logical but also practical because it will spare taxpayers of the prohibitive cost of holding talks in Europe.
"The Filipino taxpayer has been spending millions in logistical costs for the peace talks that could otherwise be saved if the talks are held in the Philippines," he said.
"Holding the talks in the country need not be a deal-breaker because neutral venues can be found in hotels or privately-owned places. Moreover, the presence of local media and the government's guarantee will ensure the safety of their negotiators," he said.
The DILG Chief further backs the three-month postponement of formal peace talks “to review the different agreements entered into by previous administrations and enable the government to increase public awareness and support for what has been agreed so far by both panels.”
“Continuing the talks without concrete public support is faulty. The people’s support is required to implement any agreement just like what was done in crafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law that underwent numerous consultations and thus resulted to its progress in the legislature,” he emphasizes.
He nonetheless challenged the CPP/NDF/NPA to add confidence-building measures and show sincerity by stopping all attacks on government construction projects as well as the collection of revolutionary taxes from private firms.
“The government is firm in its commitment to build an enabling environment for peace talks which the other side must reciprocate if they also genuinely want a just and lasting peace," he says.
The DILG expresses hope that the CPP/NPA will show sincerity by not using the peace talks as excuse or pretext to regroup and strengthen their ranks which has been decimated by their recent reverses in the field.
Nonetheless, he assures the public that the government’s reintegration assistance is ready for rebels who will lay down arms and rejoin mainstream society.
The DILG sits in the Task Force Balik-Loob created recently by President Duterte through Administrative Order No. 10 integrating government’s rebel-returnee programs namely the DILG’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP)’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) program.
Through E-CLIP, a former rebel gets an immediate assistance in the amount of P15,000 for mobilization expenses, livelihood assistance in the amount of P50,000, skills training, shelter and legal assistance, among others.