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Resume peace talks, rebs, gov’t urged

ILOILO CITY—Peace advocates have called on the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to resume peace negotiations in the aftermath of attacks and clashes between government troops and rebels in Iloilo province.

“The recent incidents all the more highlight the necessity for the peace talks,” said Sharon Rose Ruiz-Duremdes, cochair of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform in Western Visayas, a Church-based network of peace advocates.

Fifth round

She said both parties should be committed to resolve the decades-old armed conflict.

The fifth round of peace negotiations between NDFP and the government set last month in the Netherlands was called off after government negotiators withdrew from the talks in response to the rebels’ declaration that they would
intensify operations against government troops in response to the martial law declaration in Mindanao.

NPA raid

On Sunday, at least 50 New People’s Army rebels raided the police station in Maasin town in Iloilo, handcuffed the policemen on duty, and fled with 15 firearms.

At least four NPA rebels were killed in another clash with government troops in Davao Oriental province last week.

Genuine agrarian reform Duremdes said the government and NDFP should proceed with discussions on
the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (Caser) which, among others, provides for the implementation of genuine agrarian reform.

“The hostilities will not be addressed with the mere calling for surrender or ceasefire. The social, economic and political roots should be addressed because this will ensure just and lasting peace,” Duremdes said.

Ceasefire

In Oriental Mindoro province, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said the government-imposed ceasefire with communist rebels only covered Mindanao.

Dureza, who was in Mansalay town on Wednesday for a peace caravan, said the Duterte administration reciprocated NDFP’s ceasefire declaration as government troops battle Islamic State-inspired terrorist groups that attacked Marawi City.

“It (ceasefire) is effective only in Mindanao. [There is no] ceasefire in place nationwide,” he said. —WITH A REPORT FROM MADONNA VIROLA