ZAMBOANGA CITY: Communist rebels on Sunday said they are open to holding peace talks with presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and even offered to temporarily suspend offensives to allow peaceful negotiations.
“To pursue lasting peace and advance the welfare of the masses, the NPA open to hold talks with Sara Duterte,” Rigoberto Sanchez, a spokesman for the communist group, said.
Sanchez added that the gesture was in response to Duterte’s offer of peace talks with the rebels.
“The Regional Operations Command of the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao reciprocates the gesture made by Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte by suspending for a few hours the NPA operations and ordering any NPA camp in NDF territories in Davao City and nearby areas to host the talks with her at a mutually agreed time and date,” he said.
NDF is the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, an umbrella group counting the NPA as one of its members.
Sanchez said they recognize Duterte’s willingness to talk to the NPA as a group, not to individuals, amid growing public clamor to resume the peace negotiations and achieve substantial gains in the peace process.
President Rodrigo Duterte suspended the peace talks with the NPA after the rebels ended their unilateral truce in January and resumed attacks on military and police targets after the government failed to release over 400 political detainees, mostly leaders of the communist group.
The President subsequently ordered an all-out war against the rebels.
“The NPA would gladly discuss any matter that she [Sara] would like to take up with the revolutionary movement, the duties and responsibilities of the people’s democratic government, the role of the NPA, the ongoing all-out war of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the peace negotiations,” Sanchez said.
The rebel spokesman accused the military of being corrupt and reminded the mayor how it sabotaged the peace talks.
“Mayor Sara must know by now that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is a corrupt, wily and mercenary organization that makes a mockery of the peace process and continuously sabotages her father’s and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ efforts at peace every chance it gets,” Sanchez said.
“Furthermore, we are optimistic that Mayor Sara would judiciously discern the realities of the civil war, not merely through the statistics of Armed Forces of the Philippines’ casualties and its civilian victims, but by seeing the imperative to address the roots of the armed conflict. Certainly, the heavy burden being borne every single day by Filipinos because of the continued exploitation of the oligarchs and US imperialism prods the masses and the revolutionary forces to wage and advance the people’s war.”
“The NPA in southern Mindanao is looking forward to a substantial discussion with Mayor Duterte on the common ground of advancing the welfare of the masses, especially in Davao City. In the same manner that she expresses her willingness to meet for the sake of peace, the NPA advances the people’s war and adheres to the victories of the negotiations to ensure that peace will be just and lasting,” Sanchez said.
There was no immediate statement from the President or from any of the members of the government peace panel headed by Jesus Dureza.
Just recently, rebels detonated a roadside bomb in Davao City and killed 2 soldiers and injured over a dozen more in a village near Lamaman in Calinan district.
Two rebels were also killed in an ensuing gunbattle.
The NPA has been fighting for the establishment of a communist state in the Philippines for almost half a century.