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Sara shelves peace talks with Reds

DAVAO CITY – City Mayor Sara Duterte will abandon the localized peace talks that she initiated last year with the communist guerillas because it would be counterproductive to the programs implemented by the City Government in areas affected by the insurgency.

“The ship has already sailed and it would be counterproductive to stop right in the middle of our efforts to bring solutions to the social problems experienced by people in communities affected by the insurgency problem,” Duterte said in a statement released by City Information office (CIO).

The local chief executive said her decision is final because resumption would mean abandonment of the efforts and projects done by the Task Force Peace 911 or Peace 911 in addressing the development needs of the insurgency-affected communities as the body tasked to become “the implementing arm for all programs under the peace-building efforts of the city government.”

The task force was launched in May, which replaced the Davao City Peace Committee, created by the mayor last year to talk with NPA rebels operating in the hinterlands in the city and promised them livelihood and employment.

The localized peace talks did not happen after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) rejected it while the scheduled resumption of the peace negotiations between government (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) collapsed in November 2017.

Duterte added she supports the openness and encourages other local governments to negotiate with the New People’s Army (NPA), the communists’ armed wing, that operate in their respective areas.

She said the city government would instead focus on delivering development initiatives in communities, most especially in Paquibato District, the hotspot area for insurgencies and the task force’s area of convergence for the projects. (Antonio Colina)