Newly-promoted Brig. Gen. Benedict Arevalo yesterday enjoined local chief executives in Negros Occidental to involve themselves in the conduct of localized peace talks with the New People’s Army in their areas.
This was after President Rodrigo Duterte permanently terminated the peace talks with communist leaders at the national level.
Arevalo, the 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said that it would be easier to talk with local NPA commanders rather than self-exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison.
“Joma (Sison) and their national leaders are just using the peace talks for leverage to free their jailed companions and just buy time to strengthen their organization,” he added.
Without the New People’s Army, the Communist Party of the Philippines is powerless, Arevalo stressed, adding that the CPP is just manipulating the NPA for its selfish intent.
The recent surrender of 25 armed NPA members in northern Negros, who also endorsed 27 high-powered firearms to government authorities, was an offshoot of the localized peace talks, Arevalo said.
Ka JB Regalado, spokesperson of the NPA Leonardo Panaligan, yesterday issued a statement stressing that the revolutionary movement in Negros will never enter into localized peace talks.
Regalado dismissed the proposed localized peace talks as “divisive” and an attempt of the government to facilitate the surrender of the revolutionary forces.
Instead of localized peace talks, Regalado said they are pushing for a widespread armed revolution and launching of tactical offensives.
Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Carlito Galvez said yesterday that the order of President Duterte was that the localized peace talks must be held in the Philippines, and to involve local commanders of the CPP-NPA.
Galvez, in a statement he issued, said that Joma does not have control over the forces on the ground.
“If Joma does not want to talk peace, we have no problem with that. In the first place, he is already irrelevant,” he added.
“In the previous rounds of peace talks, we could not just limit discussion with political leaders. We have to include tactical commanders because there is disconnect between the two,” Galvez said.*
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