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