By Angel Ayala
SORSOGON CITY, 18July2013 (BicolToday.com) – Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee on Wednesday (July 17) appealed to President Benigno Aquino lll and urged the other key players in the peace process at the national level to put their acts together, and restart again the peace talks at the point where it has collapsed.
“I appeal to President Benigno Aquino III, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Mr. Luis Jalandoni of the NDFP, to put your acts together for peace and unity, not only for Sorsogon, but also to our country,” said Governor Lee, as he realized that the peace process is a national concern complicated by many factors that “localized” peace talks cannot handle.
“I urge their respective leaderships 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,” Governor Lee gave emphasis in his statement.
“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,” Governor Lee said. ” 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.”
Governor Lee last week (Thursday July 11) aired his call for local peace talks which the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has welcomed as “new approach” in the peace process after the ongoing peace talks at the national level had collapsed owing todisagreements with rebel representatives over important issues.
His peace gesture was in reaction over a series of violent gun fights two weeks ago between Army and NPA units in the towns of Juban, Irosin, Gubat, and Casiguran where both parties suffered serious casualties.
The Governor’s appeal last Friday was rejected by the Europe-based National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) of Sorsogon Province.
Luis Jalandoni, chair of the NDFP negotiating panel in the peace process, said in a statement sent to BicolToday.com on Friday (July 12), that “localized peace talks” is a ploy of the Philippine Government to split the ranks of the revolutionary movement, and firmly rejected any gesture of local peace talks.
In another statement posted Friday, the Celso Minguez Command (CMC), the NPA group in the province, also echoed Jalandoni policy, and instead cautioned Governor Lee and Administrator Robert Lee Rodrigueza from being used in the AFP’s “ploy” in initiating provincial- level peace talks.
But, the rebels’ suspicion was cast aside this Wednesday by the Sorsogon Governor.
“But, it was never my intention to air my call for peace as a ploy to gain leverage against any of the parties involved. To say that “localized peace talks’ is necessary is synonymous as saying that there will never be lasting peace in Sorsogon. That is also unacceptable and intolerable,” he explained.
“As Governor of Sorsogon, I am mandated by the constituency to do what is best in the Province. I have the responsibility to do what is just, necessary and equitable to achieve a lasting peace and development in the Province of Sorsogon,” explained Governor Lee.
He gave stress that as Governor, he offered (last week) the resources of the Provincial Government to initiate local peace talks, for it was the aspiration of the Sorsoganons.
“Being the Provincial Chief Executive, I want to save the Province from being marked as the “meat grinder,” south of Luzon in these 44 years of internal conflict,” he farther said.
“In this vein, I call again for the parties to exercise restraint, to pave normalcy in the Sorsogon hinterlands. I appeal to them to spare Sorsogon and civil society from pushing them (local folks) into unnecessary hardships.” the Governor said. “We are resolute in preserving the gains of our labors and we are committed to set it.” [BicolToday.com]