BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Department of the Interior and Local Government said yesterday that it will vigorously pursue localized peace engagements, rather than support any move to resume the failed peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.
Undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr., who is the DILG officer-in-charge, said that localized peace engagements are far more inclusive and allow the participation of local government units and the communities in local talks directly with the communist guerillas themselves.
Through this localized approach with local chief executives leading the negotiations with rebel groups on the ground, peace and order issues are addressed and solutions implemented immediately, Florece added.
Through these efforts, 1,833 former rebels received over P144 million in immediate assistance, livelihood assistance, reintegration assistance and firearms remuneration under the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program in 2020, he said.
Florece added that P210-million in financial assistance had also been extended to 41 provinces and highly-urbanized cities for the construction of halfway houses that serve as temporary shelter for former rebels while their documents are in process.
The amount of P520 million in development funds was allocated also by the Department of Budget and Management for 26 Negros Occidental barangays declared as insurgency-free by the government, Army regional spokesperson, Maj. Cenon Pancito III, said.
Each of the 26 barangays is entitled to receive P20 million worth of projects, Pancito said.
Florece said the DILG believes that any backchannel efforts to resume talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF will be an exercise in futility, noting that its leadership has never showed sincerity.
As clearly stated by NDF leader Luis Jalandoni himself, peace talks to them “are another form of legal struggle, which is possible to be used by the revolutionary forces in order to advance the revolutionary armed struggle and the revolutionary mass movement,” he added.*