Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte has canceled localized peace negotiations with the New People’s Army (NPA) in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte declaring the communist rebels as terrorists.
The mayor, however, did not dissolve the Davao City Peace Committee (DC-PEACE), which had spearheaded efforts to strike peace with NPA rebels operating in the city.
Instead, she renamed it the Davao City Advisory Committee for Peace and Development (DC PEACE Dev) and gave it a new mandate.
“Since the policy of the government is to never negotiate with terrorists, what we are going to do is to talk to the community about their issues through the DC-PEACE Dev,” the mayor said.
She added that she will formalize the renaming of DC-PEACE into the DC Peace Dev with the issuance of an executive order.
The new body will serve as the medium between the city government and far-flung communities to resolve their issues and concerns.
“The output of the talks will be used by the city government of Davao to address the issues the communities are experiencing. We acknowledge that they have issues with regard to the services of the government,” the mayor said.
Duterte said she was leaving the NPA issue to the military.
DC Peace Dev spokesman and lawyer Eliza Lapeña said the new role of the committee is to build peace tables, which communities can use as sounding boards.
“What we are going to do is go to the hinterlands and build peace tables, where the community can raise their concerns so that the government can address them,” she added.
Lapeṅa said they will start talking to residents of hinterland communities in the city on December 20.
President Duterte on Tuesday tagged the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines as terrorist organizations.