From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 3): Localized peace talks with Reds pushed in N. Samar
The provincial government of Northern Samar is bent on pushing localized peace talks with members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Without specifying when or what form it would take, Governor Jose `Jun’ Ong Jr., told PNA Sunday in an interview that they are planning to set up a dialogue where leaders of the rebels, the army and local officials could discuss ways of restoring peace in the province.
To recall, early morning of June 21, four soldiers of the 20th IB were wounded in an ambush by members of the NPA along the national highway between barangay Somage and Polangi in Catarman.
Northern Samar remains to have an active insurgency problem and known to be one of the hotbeds of the NPA.
According to Governor Ong, Northern Samar needs unity.
’'We urge the rebels to stop violence and we are pushing for localized peace talks here and the provincial government is willing to dialogue with them,’ Governor Ong told PNA.
’It is a big step forward to finally end the war with one of the longest standing rebel group in the province and in the country, and I welcome the peace talks with open arms because it is the inclusion and forgiveness that we become a better province,’ he said.
Governor Ong believed that they still have a long way to go, but still, he is hopeful.
'’No peace deal is perfect anywhere, but I believe we can achieve it in different ways. We need to change our mind set from one of fear and anger to one of listening, forgiving and proper planning,'’ he said.
The peace talks, according to Governor Ong, represents hope for the people of Northern Samar for them to move forward as a single, united and peaceful province.
'’We need to open our doors for a bright future in which we can start thinking about developing our province rather than spending most of our time and thoughts on war,’ he added.