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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, March 15, 2017
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Army tapping
Church in peace talks

The help of Church leaders will be tapped by the Army's 3 rd Infantry Division in pursuing peace talks with leaders of the revolutionary movement in Negros Island Region, its commander, Maj.Gen. Jon Aying, said yesterday.
“I really would like to bringthem to the front, to talk with the grassroots, middle leaders and top leaders of the CPP-NPA in Negros island,” Aying, who supervises the internal security operations in Western and Central Visayas, as well as Negros Island Region,said.

Clarifying that he is not insinuating localized peace talks, Aying said he wants to bring everyone, including politicians, chief executives, legislators, religious sector, media and CPP-NPA, into a “peace forum”.

“We really have to come together and talk on all the issues and problems, whether social, economy or political. This can only be solved through peaceful talks”, Ayingsaid, as he welcomed the resumption of peace talks between the National Democratic Front, which represents the CPP-NPA in the negotiating panel, and the government.

This armed struggle can never resolve all these social issues and problems that we have, he added.

Aying, who spoke yesterday at the Church-Military-Police Advisory Group dialogue at San Juan de Nepomuceno Parish Church in Brgy. Sum-ag, Bacolod City, said that the problem in Negros is “ unique”, noting that the issues are of quite a higher degree, compared to Panay, Cebu and Bohol.

CMPAG, that has been existing for almost seven years, promotes peace and development in Negros.

He said the “peace forum” is a matter of bringing different sectors together. “ We really have to come together, and talk on all these things, beyond what the national level will be talking about”, Aying added.

“ We will set the current environment, especially where we want to go. All the sectors should have their views on what future should Negros be able to come up with,” he further said.

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. also offered financial and livelihood assistance, as much as P300,000 each, for rebels, who will surrender high-powered firearms, in support to the campaign of the Philippine Army to convince NPA remnants to abandon the armed struggle.

Aying, who has been assigned in Negros for almost 10 years as commander of the 3 rd Scout Ranger Company in the late 1980s, 61 st Infantry Battalion, deputy and later as commander of the 303 rd Infantry Brigade, noted a marked improvement in peace and order in Negros Island

He rallied Negros island leaders to work on their declaration of the two provinces as, peaceful and ready for further development, bringing in all the sectors to be part and involved in the undertakings.

At the same time, Aying also noted that the quality of cadres, fighters of the NPA in three Visayas regions, have deteriorated much, compared to the 1970s to the 1990s.

The military estimates that there are still more than 400 active NPA members operating in Negros and Panay islands.

This is moving nowhere, Aying said, apparently referring to the armed struggle, which is now nearing 50 years.

That is why I am very supportive of the peace talks, because this is the time for them to bring out all their issues,so that the government itself will take strong and fast actions, on whatever social issues will be delivered by the two panels (NDF and government), he added.

While the peace talks failed in previous administrations, Aying said he is hopeful that it will end as a success, this time, as his trust in President Duterte to solve the problem is 100 percent.

“But since this is a two panel engagement I may say that it will be successful, with 70 to 80 percent,” he added.

This is theonly opportunity for our brothers and sisters in the CPP-NPA to be part of history, of the generation that made this country free, and peaceful and progressive,Aying also said. * GPB

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