Lopez’ confirmation on 5th round of peacetalks ‘substantial’ on socio-economic reforms

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Photo Courtesy from Kodao

By Bicoltoday.com Staff

22April2017 (BicolToday.com) – “Yeah, I’ll go.”

Environment and Natural Resources secretary Regina “Gina” Lopez is expected to attend the formal peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) after her confirmation on NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison’s invitation to attend the fifth round of formal talks on May 26 to June 2 in Netherlands.

NDFP welcomes the desire of Gina Lopez to work with the NPA for peace and development. “It is directly related to the environment, agrarian reform and rural development now being negotiated under the substantive item Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms,” Sison said on his Facebook account.

According to Sison, It would be fine if the NDFP negotiating panel becomes well informed about Lopez’ proposed area development plan urging her to present her plans to NDFP. He said that it is advisable that NDFP negotiating panel chair Fidel Agcaoili will talk with Lopez about the proposed area development plan, gains understanding and acts accordingly.

But before attending, Lopez wanted to be confirmed first by the Commission on Appointments and also wanted to attend the formal negotiations with completed eco-tourism projects she could already present as viable alternatives to destructive activities such as mining.

“What I would want to do is to create models first than just talking. What I would like to do is to work with the NPA and create models where we get people out of poverty in like six months to a year.  Then I’ll go talk to him (Sison): ‘Sir, look at what we did here. What if we do these everywhere?’” Lopez explained.

Sison earlier invited Lopez to the formal negotiations following her pronouncements she loves the New People’s Army (NPA) and that she considers them selfless people only on the lookout for the welfare of poor Filipinos.

Lopez said Thursday she planned to work with the NPA in mining communities in Agusan del Norte province to establish an Ecological, Economic and Educational (E3) zone.

She already asked President Rodrigo Duterte if she can work with the NPA. “We can’t market the place if there’s fighting … We might have a situation where miners work with the NPA,” Lopez said during the Asia CEO forum at Manila Marriott Hotel.

According to Lopez, Agusan del Norte alone has some P100 million of their operating costs for development projects in host communities available annually. DENR allotted P6 billion to develop E3 zones nationwide.

The concept according to Lopez is to get the NPA and local governments to stop fighting and they can sit together with the government, with the NPA, and then we put in the money in order for the economy to grow.

When, an army officer in the audience asked Lopez about how her plan would affect security in the province, she replied that NPA members are really nice if you meet them. “What I’ve seen with the NPA, they just really want to get people out of poverty, they’re really not bad people,” she said.

According to their April 6 Noordwijk Aan Zee Joint Statement, the parties said they will start negotiating on Part VI of the socio-economic reforms agenda. Environment Protection, Rehabilitation and Compensation is Part VI of the ongoing GRP-NDFP negotiations on socio-economic reforms, along with Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (Part IV), National Industrialization and Economic Development (Part V). [BicolToday.com]

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