Satur casts doubt on 'whole-of-nation' approach vs insurgency

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2018 11:58 AM | Updated as of Dec 12 2018 12:36 PM

File photo: Full pledge members of the Communist Party of the Philippines conduct a post-celebration of its 49th founding anniversary. Mark Saludes, ABS-CBN News, December 31, 2017

MANILA - A former peace negotiator for communist rebels doubts an executive order on a "whole-of-nation" approach to end insurgency will work in the long-term. 

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Former Deputy Minority Leader Satur Ocampo on Wednesday explained that while the executive order calls for the creation of a national peace framework, its implementation will be "dispersed" locally.

Talk of peace, Ocampo stressed, should always be on a national level, in a manner that changes policies and programs for socio-economic reforms.

"This has been successful in certain areas but after some time not having completely resolved the armed conflict on the national level, there is always the historical record of resurgence," he told ANC.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier signed Executive Order No. 70 to create a national task force to "end local communist armed conflict" and to institutionalize the "whole-of-nation approach" for peace.

Ocampo said the local approach to fight insurgency under a national framework has been tried many times by previous administrations but ultimately failed.

CIVILIAN-LED EFFORT

But Interior and Local Government Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya is optimistic, saying the difference with President Duterte's order is that it will be a civilian-led effort.

"It's not going to be purely assigning battalions and brigades here, but to actually bring all of the government together to create a civilian approach to this problem," he told ANC.

Malaya added that the talking peace locally will be effective because each area gripped by armed conflict has different root-causes that needs to be addressed in different ways.

Peace talks between the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines have been on and off under the administration of President Duterte.

But it ultimately broke down last year when Duterte cancelled the negotiations due to the alleged continuing attacks of communist rebels on state troops. 

For Malaya, the "whole-of-nation approach" executive order is a sign that the government is not yet giving up on peace despite the cancellation of the negotiations. 

But Ocampo said the test for this order will depend on "how the term 'address the root causes' would be given meat or substance, when we get to the nitty-gritty."