‘Nothing but peace’

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Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año yesterday said that contrary to the propaganda of the communist rebels, the government “wants nothing but peace.”

“We support the peace talks. However, you cannot demand peace yet do violence and plot the downfall of the government,” he said.

Peace negotiations require an enabling environment for both sides to genuinely hear each other and arrive at sincere agreements, added the DILG chief.

Año reiterated his support for the President’s position that the peace talks be held in the country.

Likewise, he said that no hostilities and regrouping during the cease fire, and no collection of revolutionary taxes and attacks on government projects should be undertaken by rebels during peace talks.

Año urges the communists “to reciprocate the sincerity of the government. How can we build mutual trust if the Left has been using the ceasefires to strengthen their ranks in their continuing bid to topple the government?”
He added that should the peace talks totally collapse, they can always pursue localized peace talks led by Local Government Units (LGU) so long as the local governments do not concede any aspect of governance and pursuant to guidance from the Cabinet Security Cluster.

Nonetheless, he said that, with or without peace talks, the DILG welcomes rebels who will lay down their arms and return to mainstream society.

A number of New People’s Army rebels surrendered to the government this week, including over a hundred in Bukidnon.