From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 10): 2 Eastern Visayas govs back local peace talks with Reds
Two governors in Eastern Visayas have expressed their support for localized peace talks with rebel groups despite President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s pronouncement of an all-out war against communist rebels.
Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla and Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan-de los Santos said that they are amenable for a localized peace talks for as long as communist members are willing to sit down with them
“But the localized peace talks should not compromise the national policy of the present administration in dealing with the rebel groups,” Petilla said.
During the Leyte provincial peace and order council meeting on Friday, the Philippine Army reported that there are still 30 active rebel members, with "only 10 of them armed."
The rebels have been seen in the mountainous areas of Baybay City, Burauen, Albuera, Kananga and Ormoc City.
Petilla said that local peace talks "will help government push through with development projects without security threats."
The provincial government has been initiating programs to persuade communist members to return to the fold of law and start a new life.
“We have been targeting far-flung villages that have suffered atrocities from the communist group and hardly accessible to services from the government,” Petilla said.
For Tan-de los Santos, the localized peace talks will allow local officials to reach the grassroots level and listen to the voices of people who joined the communist movement.
In the proposed negotiation, Tan-de los Santos said that the provincial government of Samar is planning to implement the concept of “peace village” or “peace zone.”
The idea is to focus all government programs and efforts to the identified locations affected by insurgency and help locals to have access to government services and program that could help them improve their economic condition.
“Samar province will implement the peace village concept in towns under the Spark Samar Development Program campaign such as Marabut, Basey and Paranas, where encounters between army and rebels were reported in the past,” she added. “We will pour in funds for various programs from government agencies.”
In this concept, people will be organized and trained to carry out project implementation. “The monitoring is rigid and strict to ensure that the project will go out well,” Tan said.