The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division will welcome a third party to facilitate a dialog between them and the leadership of the New People’s Army in Negros and Panay, its commander, Maj. Gen. Jose Mabanta, said.
Since the peace talks between the government and representatives in the national level had hit another a snag, Mabanta said the proposed localized peace dialog will focus on how best to address socio-economic concerns in the Western Visayas.
Peace talks between the government and the rebels were stalled when the floppy disk containing the “Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee” list of persons the CPP wants released by the government, turned out to be corrupted, that was in a vault in Netherlands was opened.
With the snowballing call for peace as advocated by the majority in Western Visayas, Mabanta said the 3ID will start an all-out effort to reach out for a dialog with the CPP-NPA in the region.
Mabanta said they are looking at the Church sector as a third party to persuade NPA leaders in the region, to accept the offer of localized peace dialogs.
Priest-turned-rebel Frank Fernandez, spokesman of the National Democratic Front-Negros,whohas repeatedly rejected the call for localized peace talks in Negros, has dismissed this as of a mere publicity stunt and part of the military “psychological operations.”
Fernandez said the NPA and other revolutionary forces in Negros have successfully confronted, resisted and will continue to frustrate the Oplan Bayanihan campaign.
Mabanta, who attended the 2nd quarterly Regional Development Council 6 meeting yesterday in Silay City, said, “Together with our partners in the Army, we wish to pursue peaceful means towards attaining a settlement with the CPP/NPA/NDF and bring peace for the people. It’s time to sit down and look for better ways to address socio-economic issues.”
He added that, "While we continue to adhere to agreements and talks entered into by the national government, we believe that there should also be an effort in the regional level."
Mabanta also stressed that they are bent on initiating a "bottoms-up approach in looking for answers to challenges faced by the country’s security.*GPB