MANILA, Philippines — Davao traders are backing Senator Panfilo Lacson’s call to put off peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines until the insurgents prove their sincerity.
Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. president Ronald Go and Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association president Alexander Valoria, in a joint statement on Friday, appealed to the government to heed Lacson’s call and take into account the damage inflicted by the rebels on Mindanao’s businesses.
“We agree with Senator Lacson and join his call for the government to scrap its peace negotiations with the NDF. Unless the NDF and its armed group on the ground can show that it is sincere in pursuing genuine peace, it would be useless and futile to keep on talking,” said Valoria.
“Treachery and betrayal have no place on the peace table,” Go said. “The continuing atrocities of the NPA prove that there is no central communist leadership that is capable of pursuing genuine peace with the government.”
“If that is the case then Senator Lacson is right to advise the government to hold off negotiations with the NDF,” he added.
Lacson made his suggestion following the June 18 NPA raid on the police station of Massin town in Iloilo, from which rebels seized several firearms without firing a shot.
The raid happened as the government and NDFP issued statements on their willingness to observe a truce in Mindanao to allow the military to focus on ending the crisis in Marawi City.
While the NPA raid did not happen was not in Mindanao, Malacanang described it as “opportunistic in nature.”
Valoria also asked government to review a recent directive for security agencies to surrender their high-powered firearms to the Philippine National Police.
“We are respectfully appealing to authorities to review this recent directive as we are left at the mercy of the NPA and other lawless elements which, in most cases, are now able to carry out their attacks using high-powered guns,” he said.
Valoria said PBGEA members operate banana and pineapple farms in areas that are infested with NPA insurgents “and it is precisely the presence of our high powered firearms that deter the NPA from attacking us.”
“This has been proven in the past. The NPA will laugh at our shotguns and pistols as they can now easily overrun our facilities. Without a chance to defend ourselves, many may see that there is no other choice but to pay the NPAs revolutionary tax,” he lamented.
He also welcomed other government initiatives such as the training of militia units to augment security forces.