HAGONOY, DAVAO DEL SUR (JULY 5, 2018) — “The doors for peace negotiations with the communist rebels are still open.”
This was the announcement made by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus G. Dureza during the celebration of the 65th Araw ng Hagonoy at the municipal capitol here.
Dureza bared that during a command conference held in Malacañang last night, President Rodrigo Duterte laid down his four “wishes” that would make the peace talks possible between the national government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The command conference was attended by top officials of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“First, there will be no coalition government. Second, there will be a stop in the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax,” he said.
“Third, the venue of the talks will be local. And fourth, there will be a ceasefire agreement in which armed NPA members are encamped in designated areas,” Dureza added.
He, however, said that in case these “wishes” are not adhered to by the NDFP, local government units can still proceed with “localized peace engagements.”
Dureza pointed out that this move could be a viable option because LGUs “can find a way to connect to the rebels.”
“Because you (LGUs) know them, you can help them,” he said.
According to the peace adviser, those who are fighting government are doing so not because of ideology but due to a more basic reason.
“They are going against government because of need,” Dureza said.
“That’s why they burn equipment, do extortion activities. Government doesn’t want this to happen,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dureza said he is optimistic President Duterte will sign the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on July 23, the day he will deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Both houses of Congress are set to hold bicameral sessions from July 9 to 13 in order to come up with a unified version of the BBL based on the respective substitute bills approved in the Lower House and Senate.
Dureza said that with the passage of the BBL, areas that have been left behind will be prioritized and given the attention they truly deserve.
“I believe that better things are ahead of us,” he said. ###