Mindoro Pursues Localized Peacetalks with NPAs

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CAMP CAPINPIN, Tanay, Rizal – Through a resolution of the Provincial Peace and Order Council that was approved by Gov Humerlito Dolor on Feb 4, Oriental Mindoro has taken the first major step in forging a peace deal which will end insurgency in the province.

​The council members, voting unanimously, resolved to express their collective “desire to pursue localized peacetalks through the creation of an expanded sub-committee on Anti-Insurgency”, read the document that was released on Friday.

​The resolution cited the council’s mandate to strengthen the capacities of governance actors ‘to effectively address socio-economic divides, create modalities and strengthen capacities of communities to resist violence and participate in peace-building and development.”

​Major General Arnulfo Marcelo B Burgos Jr, Commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division which covers Southern Tagalog, welcomed the resolution and lauded the people of Oriental Mindoro for taking “an admirable stand in attaining the much coveted peace, prosperity and progress which every Filipino truly deserves.”

​He described the provincial government’s action as “crucial and necessary” in finally ending communist armed conflict which has hampered the country since “localized peacetalks will directly address the distinct social issues prevailing in every area,” something that negotiations in the national level cannot “because communist leaders in that level are not attuned to the real sentiments on the ground, thus, making their position irrelevant to their fighters and supporters.”

​For the longest time, peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front failed to gain headways due to impossible and unattainable demands which the government negotiating panel cannot agree because of conflict with the Philippine Constitution and the Filipino people’s moral foundation.

​The Local Peace Panel of Oriental Mindoro is chaired by BGen Antonio R Lastimado, Commander of the 203rd Brigade which has operational jurisdiction over the island, with six other members coming from the provincial council, DILG Regional Office, Philippine National Police, Provincial DSWD, civilian sector and a municipal mayor.

​BGen Lastimado expressed his optimism that “the initiative will lead to cessation of hostilities which will further boost the bullish economic and tourism potentials of MIMAROPA Region thereby uplifting the lives of our constituents.”

​“The government has taken the first step and we hope that the NPAs will follow our lead. The panel is looking forward to meeting with our counterparts from their side so that, together, we can finally write the closing paragraphs of this dark chapter in Philippine history”, ended BGen Lastimado.

​MGen Burgos ended his statement by declaring the resolution as “the first step toward the irreversible collapse of insurgency not only in this part of the country but also across the entire nation.”

​President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has been pushing for a localized peacetalks ever since the negotiations between the GRP and NDF was terminated on January 2017.

This was supported by Gen Felimon T Santos Jr, the AFP Chief of Staff, saying that “localized peacetalks is the best way to end insurgency because it will bring faster gains since the Local Chief Executives will be directly talking with the local NPA commanders.”