By Bicol Today.com News Team
SORSOGON CITY – Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero has wanted to pursue localize peace talks which he has announced in a speech during the opening of Sorsogon Kasanggayahan Festival on October 17.
Senator Escudero has said that he will pursue localize peace talks for Sorsogon Province as alternative, or option for the collapse of the peace talks in May 2017 between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
“We want peace for Sorsogon Province, if the national level does not want peace, we are affected here,” Senator Escudero was reported as saying.
Peace-loving people here in Sorsogon City remembered Senator Escudero’s speech as they stayed in vigil for Edwin Pura who was gunned down by two gunmen inside a resto-bar early Wednesday morning, October 25.
“After Senator Escudero’s inspiring speech, what happened then?,” people in vigil asked, after learning that many people had died from EJKs in Sorsogon, and many deaths are forthcoming.
Pura was a paralegal in a law firm, and was involved in human rights cases after his stint as leader of BAYAN and a transport group.
Pura had worked in the law firm of Atty. Ron Espinosa, who was also a subject of an assassination attempt last August.
Pura was the 17th recorded extra-judicial killing (EJK) in Sorsogon Province since President Duterte assumed into office.
He, and his dead companion, Willy Bronio, were the latest EJK victims as of Tuesday, October 31.
According to friends, Pura was formerly active with Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and transport leader of PORTA-Sorsogon (under PISTON – Pinagkaisang Tsuper at Operator Nationwide).
Bicol front rejects local peace talks
However, the National Democratic Front in the Bicol Region (NDF-Bicol) had balked of the idea for “localized peace talks.”
In a statement, Ma. Roja Banua, NDF Bicol spokesperson said the AFP and US-Duterte regime are dreaming if they think that the revolutionary movement can be tricked into agreeing to localized peace talks in the face of their blatant violations of human rights.
NDF-Bicol on Saturday, October 21, reacted sharply over the idea of local peace talks floated by state/military stakeholders over the media after conferring recognition of “martyrdom status” to two slain red fighters who died in a clash on Wednesday, October 18 in Joroan, Tiwi, Albay.
On the Tiwi clash, NDF-Bicol, said in a statement that the “highest honor and tribute” as “revolutionary martyrs” were awarded to slain red fighter Pablo “Ka Ambo” Delos Santos and to another red fighter whose name was withheld.
“As long as their triple war continue, along with their neoliberal economic policies, the whole Bicol region will resonate with tactical offensives as punishment for their crimes against the people. As long as there is no genuine social change and just peace for the oppressed, the countryside will teem with Ka Ambos – comrades (who died as martyrs) genuinely serving the people,” said Banua, said in the October 21 statement posted at the internet.
Resumption of stalled peace talks probable
Meanwhile, at the national level, the NDFP Negotiating Panel had said the other week it remains open to resume formal peace negotiations with the Duterte government.
However, its regional front in Bicol has reiterated that they will not engage in localized peace talks.
Reacting to Duterte’s statement Friday (October 20, 2017) he still has to talk to the NPA, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili told Kodao news group, (that) “the revolutionary movement is also open to reviving formal talks with GRP.”
Duterte hinted peace talks with the NDFP might soon be revived in a speech at Cagayan de Oro City’s Laguindingan International Airport Friday.
“Ideology ‘to. So I’m facing that. I have to talk to the NPA still,” Duterte said after ticking off a list of problems he said he is facing.
“The NDFP has always been open to continue with the fifth round of the formal talks, which he scuttled in May 2017,” Agcaoili said.
Peace negotiation deadlock
The Duterte GRP cancelled the fifth round of formal negotiations last May after failing to secure an open-ended bilateral ceasefire agreement with the NDFP.
The NDFP said the GRP demand was a precondition violating The Hague Joint Declaration that says cessation of hostilities shall come after social and economic as well as political and constitutional reforms agreements have already been agreed and signed by both parties.
Negotiators from both the NDFP and GRP said they are ready to sign agrarian reform and rural development agreements, including free distribution of at least one million hectares of land to poor farmers, when the fifth round of formal negotiations are finally held. (With reports from Raymund B. Villanueva)