By ACE ALEGRE
BAGUIO CITY– Communist rebels in the highland Cordillera region flatly rejected calls by the military for localized peace talks insisting “it is unnecessary” because there is a national level negotiation.
Also brushing aside as “just empty talk” 401st Infantry Brigade commander Col. Eliseo Posadas’ promise to guarantee the safety of Cordillera Peoples Democratic Front (CPDF) leaders and members who will sit with them to discuss peace, former government engineer Simon Naogsan who assumes the nom de guerre “Ka Filiw” said “the AFP’s push for local peace talks is just another deceptive public relations and psywar tactic.”
Naogsan in an emailed statement insisted that there are peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, while also believing that several agreements such as the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) are already in place which must be followed. “Both parties have signed the Hague Joint Declaration which spells out the principles, framework and sequence of substantive agendas to be tackled during the peace talks. These agreements and declarations are legal and binding.”
He underscored though that peace talks had to be suspended blaming government for “its non-compliance and frequent violations of all signed agreements,” a thing that government negotiators refuse to acknowledge while also pointing at NDF leaders scuttling the talks.
Naogsan claimed the guarantee of safety and immunity issued by Col. Posadas “is just empty talk,” saying, “If the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police can easily arrest, incarcerate, forcibly disappear, and kill NDFP consultants covered by the JASIG, then it would be easier for them to disregard the personal guarantee issued by a mere field-grade officer.”
Earlier, the CPDF called government to release NDF consultant Jovencio Balweg, nabbed by state security forces last year in the city and is being kept in Camp Crame. He is facing murder and several other criminal cases in an Abra court.
Naogsan blamed the military of double talking. “While it calls for local peace talks, it deploys additional combat troops in Mountain Province,” the rebel leader said.
In rather a new tact against insurgency, army units operating in Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province and Ifugao are now reportedly using the “Convergence Approach”, a formula of Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) that was applied in Bohol from 2003- 2007.
This formula relies on a combination of palliative showcase projects and intense militarization.
Posadas earlier said he intends to make the Mountain Province the showcase in the national anti-insurgency drive.
But Naogsan said “this can only lead to more violence against the people, and greater damage to their lands and livelihoods.” (Bulatlat.com)