Palace: Local peace efforts in Davao can continue

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 26 2019 06:25 PM

MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte is allowing local peace efforts in his hometown Davao City to continue, Malacañang said Thursday after city mayor, Sara Duterte-Carpio, called on the government to exclude the city from national peace efforts with communist rebels.

Duterte-Carpio has rejected negotiations with the communist rebels, referring to them as "terrorists." She instead touted the achievements of the local peace initiative Peace 911, saying it is a more effective strategy in winning back strongholds of rebels.

“I understand that the local peace talks are very effective. It has resulted in surrenders of so many NPA kaya ayaw ni Mayor Sara na matigil yun,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters in Malacañang on Thursday.

“Kay Presidente naman okay lang wala pa naman peace talks daw. Kung ano ang current situation ayaw niya magambala yun,” he added.

Duterte-Carpio made the exclusion request after the government declared a "unilateral and reciprocal" ceasefire from Dec. 23 to Jan. 7, 2020.

Following her plea, Duterte-Carpio earned the ire of communist rebels in Southern Mindanao, who claimed that she is "bent to rule with impunity.”

Panelo however defended the President’s daughter from the rebels’ tirades, saying Duterte-Carpio has always supported the rule of law.

“Then they should look at themselves in the mirror. Ibig sabihin sila yun, hindi si Mayor Sara yun. Mayor Sara, being a lawyer, always wants the rule of law to prevail,” he said.

Malacañang also condemned the recently reported attacks of the communist rebels’ armed wing—the New People's Army, despite an ongoing holiday ceasefire.

Separate attacks in Camarines Sur and in Iloilo on Monday left one soldier dead and 8 other security forces wounded. Communist leader Jose Maria Sison has downplayed the attacks as isolated cases. He said the incidents were not meant to violate the truce with the government. 

“We condemn also, of course, the violations of the ceasefire agreements. We are giving them the chance to explain why they have committed such violations,” Panelo said.