BACOLOD CITY – The commander of an Army brigade based in the island is supporting the holding of localized talks with Maoist rebels as the Duterte government presses its counter-insurgency campaign.
Brigadier General Benedict Arevalo told DNX he favors the proposal that is being backed by government officials and civil society organizations.
One of those who recently pushed for regionalized peace talks was action star Robin Padilla, a reserve Army captain.
Padilla came to Escalante City last month for the 34th year commemoration of the Escalante Massacre, an incident on September 20, 1985 during which paramilitary personnel fired on protesters on the second day of a people’s strike against the Marcos dictatorship. Padilla also led a public relations campaign for the Armed Forces in that city.
“It’s easier to talk with a smaller group than their whole organization represented by their national leaders,” Arevalo pointed out.
The Army official, one of the youngest generals to head a brigade in the island, was deployed here in the 1990s as a lieutenant and was among those who led search and capture missions for Ka Frank Fernandez, who then headed the regional committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Fernandez was captured recently in Laguna province when Arevalo was already brigade chief.
A brigade is an Army unit composed of three maneuver battalions or a total of about 1,500 men.
Talks with the CPP started in 1986 after Corazon Aquino came to power. Through more than 30 years and six presidents, it has went on and off owing to a variety of disagreements between the rebel and government peace panels.