Manila Times/Agusan del Sur
Former special assistant to the president and Senate candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has appealed to communist rebels to return to the fold of the law, saying peace was necessary to spur development in the countryside.
Speaking at the campaign rally of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago at the Agusan del Sur Cultural Center, Go thanked the officials and residents of the province for their warm welcome.
He also appealed to communist rebels to seriously consider the opening President Rodrigo Duterte had given to them for peace, because no other president might give them the same chance.
“Do not let that chance pass,” Go said.
He noted that while President Duterte announced in March 21, 2019 the official termination of talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines, Executive Order 70 signed last December by the president was still effect, which directs the creation of a national task force to “end local communist armed conflict.”
Go said this meant Duterte did not entirely close the doors to communist rebels to come down from the mountains, also citing the ongoing government incentives for rebel-returnees such as the Enhanced-Comprehensive Local Integration and Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan programs.
Likewise, the Philippine National Police instructed in March all police commanders, especially in communist rebel-infested areas, to start their own initiatives in pursuing local peace talks with communist units operating in their respective areas.
Go, who has made localised peace talks one of the priority concerns under his legislative agenda, noted that the roots of rebellion in many places of the country stemmed from local issues and, thus, could be addressed locally.
“Let us give enough authority and capabilities our local government units, including support mechanisms, so they can pursue lasting peace in their respective areas,” Go said.
“No Filipino would want to kill a fellow Filipino,” he added.
Go said he was familiar with the sentiment of the communist rebels, having accompanied then-Davao Mayor Duterte several times to the mountains, going into the lair of communist rebels, to facilitate the release of their hostages.
It can be recalled that in February, Go and the president’s son, Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, facilitated the release of the remaining eight hostages held by the New People’s Army in Agusan del Sur.
Unless the problem of rebellion is solved, Go said it would be very difficult for progress to take off in provinces such as Agusan del Norte, despite its generous share of development projects under the Duterte administration.
Among others, the government is awaiting proposals for the P50.46mn, 4.76-kilometre communal irrigation system in Rosario, Agusan del Sur, which would have 23 units of canal structures to serve 264 hectares of rice farms in Barangays Libuac, Poblacion and Tagbayan.
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