The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will push for localized peace talks between local government units (LGUs) and ground units of the National Democratic Front – New People’s Army (NDF-NPA) should peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) do not push through.
DILG OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Año says that this approach pronounced by Malacañang and backed by the Department of National Defense would make the peace process more participatory and responsive to the specific needs and situation of local communities and will have more impact on people on the ground.
“In light of the Left's pronouncement that they would rather oust the President than talk peace, we have no choice but to push for localized peace talks because decisions and agreements will be more genuine and enforceable,” he points out.
He says this would also address the concern raised by some members of Congress that leftist leaders especially those in exile abroad do not necessarily represent the demands and concerns of the rebels in the country.
The DILG Chief nonetheless stresses that in pursuing localized peace talks, LGUs should not concede any aspect of governance to the communists.
“A working group is now crafting the guidelines for LGUs in the conduct of localized peace talks. As soon as these are finalized, LGUs can already take the lead in engaging with local rebels in their respective areas for the sake of peace and development in the communities,” the DILG chief said.
Under the soon to be released guidelines, Regional Peace and Order Councils (RPOCs) and Regional Development Councils (RDCs) will be the main platforms for peace initiatives to be immediately undertaken.
While localized peace process shall be ongoing, previously signed peace documents will be reviewed including draft proposals for Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), Interim Peace Agreement (IPA), and End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (EHDF) in order to evaluate their relevance and significance.
"We are not giving up on peace. We will pursue every avenue that we can utilize. However, it will not be peace at all costs. Only sincere peace talks - whether national or on the local level - can produce real and lasting peace," he says.
President Duterte earlier set forth conditions for the resumption of peace talks with the rebels. Among them are the following: peace talks in the country, no collection of revolutionary tax, no hostilities, NPA fighters to be confined to their camps, and no coalition government.