From the Philippine Star (Sep 3): Noy urged to pursue peace talks with NPA
Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas receives firearms from former NPA rebels during a turnover ceremony in Malaybalay City Sunday.
MALAYBALAY CITY, Philippines – Bukidnon Gov. Jose Ma. Zubiri Jr. has urged President Aquino to pursue a peace dialogue with communist rebels.
Zubiri made the appeal before dozens of former communist rebels who witnessed the launching and turnover of the Comprehensive Local Integration Program (CLIP) at the Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade here last Sunday.
He asked Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas to relay his message to the President. He said to achieve lasting peace, the government should start talking peace with the rebels.
“Let us start talking peace here, at least, in Bukidnon,” Zubiri said.
Roxas was in Bukidnon to facilitate the launching and turnover of the CLIP livelihood assistance to 66 former communist rebels who surrendered to government forces last May 2.
Zubiri challenged the communist guerrillas to talk peace with the government.
“If they can hear me, I offer them my hand of peace,” he said.
Roxas said each of the 66 former members of the New People’s Army (NPA) would receive P65,000 under the government’s local integration program.
Zubiri said the former rebels would also receive P50,000 from the provincial government.
He admitted the local government could not help the former rebels in terms of jobs, but he expressed optimism that they would be able to start a new life with the CLIP in time for Bukidnon’s centennial celebration.
Roxas tasked DILG regional director Rene Burdeos to ensure that the former rebels maximize the livelihood assistance.
The launch and turnover of the livelihood program came hours after communist rebels bombed a tower of a telephone company in Impasugong town, also in Bukidnon.
Haji Acmad Bayam, the MNLF’s chief propagandist in the past, told the Manila Bulletin yesterday that he believes the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would be a better foil for any of the reported Filipino Muslims who were trying to sneak to Syria and Iraq to train and fight with the unforgiving ISIS Sunni militants.
He said the government should take seriously the reports because there was already a precedent when Moro militants joined the Afghanistan revolution against the former Union of Soviet Socialist Russia (USSR).
“Some of them were known to have come back to the Philippines and spread the virus of revolution,” said Bayam.
He said there are reports that some Moro people have already joined the ISIS, or Islamic State (IS), which has and continues to carve its own territory out of Syria and Iraq, and called it a caliphate.
Bayam said those with the ISIS now, if they survive the fighting in the Middle East, will surely be going home, he said.
But what is scary is that the ISIS ideology leaves no space for co-existence and tolerance for its perceived enemies, he pointed out.
He said that with the Bangsamoro government under the MILF, with its own security apparatus that is also under the national government, returning militants will face their fellow Moro people in case violence breaks outs.
In referring to the Bangsamoro, it means that the new political entity to be created through the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), signed by the MILF and the Philippine government on March 27 this year.
On the other hand, both the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have said they have not received confirmation that Filipino Muslims were already with the ISIS.
Earlier, former President Fidel V. Ramos and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said they have received information that Filipino Muslims were being recruited to join the ISIS.