Manila Bulletin

Min­danao traders to gov’t: End scourge of com­mu­nist in­sur­gency

- By JONATHAN A. SANTES

DAVAO CITY – Busi­ness lead­ers in Min­danao called on the Aquino ad­min­is­tra­tion and pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls to pur­sue a peace­ful set­tle­ment with the com­mu­nist New Peo­ple's Army so that the coun­try can fo­cus on eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and up­lift the qual­ity of life of peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas.

John Gaisano, chair­man of the Davao City Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try said the gov­ern­ment should move quickly to re­open peace ne­go­ti­a­tions with com­mu­nist rebels as busi­nesses and lo­cal gov­ern­ment units caught in the con­flict re­port mount­ing losses.

“The gov­ern­ment, to­gether with those sec­tors di­rectly af­fected by the con­flict should work hand in hand to end the com­mu­nist in­sur­gency at the soon­est pos­si­ble time,” said Fran­cisco J. Lara Jr., coun­try man­ager of In­ter­na­tional Alert, a peace-build­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion which con­ducted a fo­rum here.

2-pronged peace pact Lara said the “GPH-NDF peace talks should be pur­sued even as the gov­ern­ment strikes a po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment with the Moro Is­lamic Lib­er­a­tion Front.”

He said the com­mu­nist in­sur­gency is ex­act­ing a higher toll than the Moro re­bel­lion. It has ran longer and is af­fect­ing more prov­inces in the coun­try.

Bad for busi­ness Com­pa­nies in these prov­inces are forced to pay mil­lions in “rev­o­lu­tion­ary taxes” and have seen many of their fa­cil­i­ties and equip­ment de­stroyed.

Lo­cal gov­ern­ments can­not at­tract in­vest­ments and tourists that should have boosted the lo­cal econ­omy. In­dige­nous peo­ples are dis­placed or per­se­cuted, if they are not re­cruited by ei­ther side.

Failed at­tempts

The Aquino ad­min­is­tra­tion has made sev­eral at­tempts since 2010 to restart peace ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Com­mu­nist Party of the Philip­pines and its po­lit­i­cal and armed wings, the Na­tional Demo­cratic Front and the New Peo­ple’s Army, re­spec­tively.

In­for­mal talks last year were aimed at re­sum­ing for­mal ne­go­ti­a­tions, even as it pushed for a Bangsamoro Ba­sic Law in Congress, but these even­tu­ally col­lapsed.

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