Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Saturday urged local officials to actively participate in the localized peace talks in line with the forthcoming issuance of an executive order for the planned localized talks with communist rebels.

go peace talks
Village officials greet Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go before his speech at a covered court during the Samar Day celebration. 

Speaking before thousands of local officials at a covered court Catbalogan City in Samar, Go said local officials, including those in villages, can do something to attain lasting peace.

“The order will be signed and will be out soon to guide our local officials on how to engage with the communist rebels. We really need this because in some areas, some officials have to deal with NPA (New People’s Army) for their safety,” said Go, who was guest speaker of Samar Day celebration.

President Rodrigo Duterte approved during the 28th Cabinet meeting on Aug. 6 the draft of the directive, which provides the framework that will aid local government officials in dialogue with the rebels.

The guidelines, as previously announced by Malacañang, include:

* Nationally orchestrated, centrally directed, and locally supervised and implemented

* Constitutional integrity and sovereignty will not be compromised.
Complete and genuine resolution of the local armed conflict that shall cover the New People’s Army, organs of political power and Militia ng Bayan

* there is a ceasefire, the constitutional mandate of the State to protect public safety, civilian welfare, critical infrastructure and private properties and the guarantee of rule of law and order will not be compromised at all times.

* Government goodwill, full amnesty package based on disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration to the mainstream society.

* Substantive agenda will be based on the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan and Philippine Development Program 2040

The top presidential aide expects that these guidelines will help stop decades of bloody struggle by the NPA especially in poverty-stricken areas such as Samar Island.

Go previously recalled that when Duterte was still mayor of Davao City, he accompanied the latter several times in going to the mountains to talk to communists. He added that there had been a trust between the communist group and then mayor Duterte such that they have met with them even without bodyguards.

Sincere approach, he said, comes with various government projects such as the livelihood assistance offered by local government units, among others.

Samar province has been a stronghold of armed rebels due to their densely-forested mountainous areas, high poverty incidence, and issue of widespread landlessness, based on a 2013 study of William Norman Holden of the University of Calgary in Canada.

The NPA launched its first tactical operation in the country in Calbiga, Samar in 1974, when its members ambushed an Army scout patrol and seized a number of weapons.

In 1976, the NPA gained popular support among the inhabitants of Samar following its actions against cattle rustling gangs. (PNA)

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