The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) assures the people that the government “is not giving up on peace” and is “going all out on localized peace talks” contrary to the claims of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chairman Joma Sison that the government closed its doors on peace negotiations.
“Joma is mistaken. The government has always been on the side of peace. Hindi kami ang kontrabida dito. We have always been relentless in the pursuit of promoting peace and we are not giving up on it,” says DILG OIC Secretary Eduardo M. Año.
Año says that with the halt of national peace negotiations, the government opted to explore avenues of peace, particularly localized peace talks, in its desire to end hostilities on the ground.
“We are just waiting for the Executive Order from President Rodrigo Duterte on the guidelines to get the ball rolling for the localized peace talks,” he adds.
According to Año, pursuing localized peace talks is better because the CPP/New People’s Army (NPA)/National Democratic Front (NDF) have only themselves to blame for the collapse of the peace talks in Oslo, Norway.
“Its useless to talk to Joma and his cohorts. We would rather talk to local rebels who are actually fighting in the mountains and not Joma and those like him who are enjoying the comforts of living in Europe while his minions are doing the hard work,” Año said.
Año made the statement after Sison accused him and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of convincing Pres. Duterte to stop the peace negotiations in an exclusive interview with The Times Chairman Emeritus Dr. Dante Ang in The Netherlands.
The DILG Chief says that Sison’s statement is a futile attempt to divert the attention from their foiled plot to oust the Duterte administration and revive discussions on the peace talks.
He insists that there is no use talking peace if government forces and civilians are dying as the rebel groups continue to commit lawlessness.
"Peace requires confidence-building measures, and the CPP/NPA/NDF has failed in this respect. They have only themselves to blame," he said.
If Sison and his minions are sincere, Año says the communists terrorists groups should stop all forms of hostilities, extortion activities and burning of construction or farm equipment and instead build mutual trust with the government to achieve genuine peace.
He adds that while the government negotiating panel was talking to Sison, National Democratic Front of the Philippines Luis Jalandoni, etc. in Norway, the NPA continued with their recruitment, refurbishing, regrouping, and other violent extremism activities in various parts of the country.
On the other hand, Año says the President extended his hands for peace when he appointed leftists and activist leaders to key cabinet positions in the national government.
Thousands benefiting through E-CLIP, PAMANA program
As part of the national government’s unwavering commitment to help former rebels and achieve lasting peace, the DILG has distributed P360.043-million worth of financial assistance grants to 655 former rebels through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program
“Former rebels who have decided to go back to mainstream society each receive P50,000 livelihood assistance and P15,000 immediate assistance through the E-CLIP program,” he says.
E-CLIP is locally-driven, managed and implemented program which veers away from the past practice of pre-packaged interventions designed at the national level.
The DILG Chief said that some 304,345 people have also benefited from the 647 completed infrastructure projects in conflict-affected areas through the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Program.
These projects are expected to rebuild and improve the lives of the people who had suffered from armed conflicts.