By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.
SORSOGON CITY, 18July2013 (BicolToday.com) – The second press statement released by the Office of Governor Raul Lee clarified the position of the Province of Sorsogon why there is a need for a local peace talk.
Debunking accusations that his effort is part of the government’s counter-insurgency Oplan Bayanihan, and a psywar strategy, Lee reiterated his call for a meaningful dialog among warring parties
“When I made a call for cessation of hostilities, and urged for meaningful dialogue between concerned government authorities and the rebels, my intention is to promote peace in Sorsogon. A just and lasting peace in any civil society is the foundation to achieve sustainable growth for people to live with dignity, and to become valuable partners in the creation of wealth” was his statement.
This answers the posting of Luis Jalandoni, chairperson of NDFP, and Samuel Guerrero of the NPA Celso Minguez Command (CMC) when they accused and lectured the Governor and his provincial administrator Robert Lee Rodrigueza that localized peace talk is unacceptable.
Refuting Jalandoni and Guerrero of CMC, the provincial administrator clarified that the Governor did not air his call for peace as a ploy to gain leverage against any of the parties involved.
“To say that “localized peace talks’ is (un)necessary is synonymous as saying that there will never be lasting peace in Sorsogon. That is also unacceptable and intolerable”.
Administrator Rodrigueza said that the Governor gives a high premium to achieve a meaningful peace in the province.
Lee’s press statement of July 9 said; “I appeal and call upon all parties involved to initiate a meaningful dialog to start in the local level, in order to preserve life, and explore all avenues to implement doable formula for a lasting peace. I call upon the Catholic leadership in the province to join me in our common quest for peace”, he made the call last week after soldiers of the Philippine Army 31st IB and elements of the NPA clash in the hinterland Barangay of Upper Calmayon, Juban. The rebels suffered eight (8) casualties, among them Ka Greg Bañares, their spokeman for Bicol.
The governor’s latest statement titled “Peace for ALL” reminded the parties in the conflict, and that of their leadership “to re-start a comprehensive peace process. Start peace process where you have stumbled a few times at the National Level. Somewhere along the peace talk’s process, you may reach a common point of understanding, equilibrium of agreement where both parties and protagonists will see the light of a new horizon where fraternity, love and unity reign among warring Filipinos.”
Adding, he said: “ I call again for the parties to exercise restraint, to pave normalcy in the Sorsogon hinterlands.”
Offering the resources of the provincial government to initiate local peace talk, Lee said that he is mandated by the constituency to do what is best in the Province, and have the responsibility to do what is just, necessary and equitable to achieve a lasting peace and development in the Province of Sorsogon.
For a long time, hinterland barangays of the province are known lairs of the NPA. Encounters and sporadic firefights between the military and the rebel groups have deprived residents of far flung barangays the opportunity to live in peace.
The Governor said that “I want to save the Province from being marked as the “meat grinder,” South of Luzon in these 44 years of internal conflict,”
Administrator Rodrigueza believes that the Governor’s statement may help pave the way to spare Sorsogon and civil society from pushing them (the people) into unnecessary hardships.
“We are resolute in preserving the gains of our labors and we are committed to set it” was the goal and commitment of Governor Lee for Sorsogon,” Rodrigueza said. [BicolToday.com]