Eyebrows were raised when Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista was spotted at the peace negotiation in Oslo between the government and the National Democratic Front.
But the mayor said he volunteered to be an adviser and observer at the peace talks, being the former president of the League of Cities of the Philippines.
Bautista said he has much to learn from the process as member of the reciprocal working committee on social and economic reforms.
"Marami akong natututunan dito nakikita ko rito yung posisyon ng NDFP, posisyon ng pamahalaan at di naman nagkakalayo dahil ang objective lang nila ay paano mapapaganda at mapapaundalad yung bayan natin. Maraming common na mapagkakasunduan [I learn a lot here. I see the positions of NDFP, government. The objectives are almost the same for both sides, and that is to find ways on how we can improve our country,” said Bautista.
Joining Bautista as adviser is Angeles Mayor Ed Pamintuan, who stressed the importance of the peace talks to local governments.
"Saan nag-local conflict? Sa local. Saan ang hindi pagkakaunawaan yung mga displacement ng tao kapag nagkakagiyera? Sa local. Kaya ‘yan ang mga concerns namin, kaya gusto namin na magkaroon finally [ng] katahimikan sa ating bansa [Most conflicts occur in local towns. That's our concern]," Pamintuan said.
Pamintuan was also adviser to the peace talks under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Both chief executives say parties should be informed of the local government's need to have sufficient funds and not just dependent on the internal revenue allotment.
"Meron kaming project with ADB na baguhin ang local government code at palalkasin itong mga munisipyo, magkaroon ng tamang mandato pagdating sa larangan ng paglilikom ng pondo [We have projects with ADB that seek to improve the local government. We are also seeking mandates so we can find our own funds]," said Bautista.
"At kung mayroon mang iba-ibang mga programa at function na galling sa national government, departments di lang dapat yung katungkuluan ibigay; kailangan pati pondo para ma-implement ang mga programang ito,” he added.
They are also trying to get both parties to warm up on federalism even if this is not yet on the agenda of the talks.