From Rappler (Mar 5, 2019): ‘Local peace talks gaining ground’
State security officials yesterday declared that localized peace talks are gaining ground in Negros Occidental.
Police Brig. Gen. John Bulalacao, regional police director of Western Visayas, and Col. Benedict Arevalo, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, yesterday cited the surrender of 25 New People’s Army rebels, who also turned over 27 high-powered firearms Saturday, to the 79th Infantry Battalion, Special Action Battalion 6 and Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office..
”This is already a clear manifestation of successful localized peace talks”, Bulalacao stressed.
If there is no effort for the AFP to have a dialog with the NPA leaders, there could have been no surrenders, the regional police director said, apparently referring to the surrendered guns.
Arevalo also shared the statements of Bulalacao, on the surrender of guns, that he considered the biggest haul of firearms in Negros, and proof that localized peace talks in Negros are succeeding, contrary to the claims of the CPP-NPA top leaders that it will not work.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello,who chaired the government peace panel, earlier said that the peace talks with communist rebels are still alive, despite their suspension.
Bulalacao said CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison vehemently opposed the localized peace talks, as he always wants to be in the center.
But Sison does not know the situation in the ground, as he is living a luxurious life in the Netherlands, he added.
Lt. Col Emelito Thaddeus Logan, 79th Infantry Battalion commander, also cited the important role of barangay officials in urging the NPA to give up violence, in support to the localized peace talks initiated by the 303rd Infantry Brigade since last year.
The 25 NPA red fighters and squad leaders belonging to the Platoon Robinson of the Northern Negros Front surrendered 27 firearms, including three M16 rifles, an M14 assault rifle, four M1 garand rifles, 12 caliber 45 pistols, a caliber 22 magnum rifle with scope, four 12 gauge shotguns, and two 9mm Uzi machine pistols, a caliber 38 revolver, magazines with ammunition.
The 303rd Infantry Brigade and NOCPPO under the leadership of Police Colonel Romeo Baleros are now coordinating with the DILG in processing the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program that can be availed of by the former rebels.