Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. is apparently not giving up on his call to the leaders and members of the New People’s Army to give peace a chance.
This was noted after government negotiating panel chairman Alexander Padilla announced that he will support any attempt or endeavor of the local government executives to explore localized peace talks with the local insurgents.
Marañon said that ever since, he has been trying to reach out to misguided Negrenses, who are still in the mountains and fighting against the government, to join him in the fight against poverty, and not against each other.
He reiterated his offer to provide medical assistance to ailing former priest Frank Fernandez, alleged by the military to be the secretary of the Komiteng Rehiyonal-Negros, and reportedly suffering from a lingering illness.
Padilla said Friday that the holding of localized peace talks, that may be initiated by local government executives, is welcome especially when the resumption of peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front stalled again.
More than 100 ex-rebels and their families have availed of financial and livelihood assistance from the provincial government of Negros Occidental, since 2011, military records show.
Meanwhile, Undersecretary Maria Cleofe Gettie Sandoval of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said that the government is poised to sign a closure agreement with the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (Tabara Paduano Group), that had signed a peace agreement in 2000.
Sandoval said the PAMANA project, founded on the ideals of participation and inclusion, is changing people’s lives.
In a statement from the OPAPP, Sandoval cited the hiring of 95 former RPA-ABB members as forest guards, through the partnership of PAMANA and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
In the RPM-P/RPA/ABB peace tracks, scholarships under the Commission on Higher Education’s Study Grant Program and health insurance coverage by PhilHealth have also ensured that family and kin of former combatants, as well as immediate community members, have basic social protection benefits, Sandoval said in the OPAPP statement.*GPB
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