Peace talks with splinter rebel group RPA-ABB gaining headway

May 18, 2012 9:49 pm 

By Ben Cal

MANILA, May 18 – Peace talk between the government and a splinter rebel group is quietly gaining headway with the profiling of its members and inventory of firearms in preparation for disarmament.

Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Friday assured the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPM-P/RPA/ABB) that the closure of the peace process pursued by the government was intended to bind the rebel group to commit to peace and ensure their accountability to the rule of law.

The RPM-P/RPA/ABB is a splinter of the New People’s Army, the armed component of the Communist Party of the Philippines and National Democratic Front (CPP/NDF) which is negotiating a separate peace talks with the Philippine government.

At the same time, Montalbo said Friday that OPAPP would study the findings of the fact-finding mission undertaken by peasant groups on the atrocities allegedly perpetrated by members of the RPM-P/RPA/ABB.

The splinter-rebel group has about 700 armed members nationwide.

The alleged atrocities involved abductions, grave threats, strafing, shooting and other abuses. Montalbo assured the aggrieved parties that justice would be pursued.

In a dialogue with representatives of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) as well as victims at the OPAPP headquarters in Pasig City, Montalbo thanked the groups “for bringing the results of their investigation to their attention.”

He urged the victims and the KMP and NFSW to file the necessary charges for proper action, stressing that the agency will coordinate with the Department of Justice, the Department of Agrarian Reform, and the Commission on Human Rights to help the aggrieved parties seek justice as soon as it receives copies of affidavits and other pertinent documents from the complainants.

“The GPH-RPM-P/RPA/ABB peace track will need all the feedback we can get from the ground. We want to put a proper closure to this peace track," Montalbo said.

He said the rebel group is aware of this and has been working with the government in the profiling of its members and inventory of firearms in preparation for disarmament.

“This closure track does not deal with nameless nor bogus members. We have done member profiling and have undergone an inventory of their firearms. We can cross-check if the alleged perpetrators of violence and other atrocities are indeed on the list of RPM-P/RPA/ABB members.” Montalbo said.

No fund release yet

Meanwhile, Montalbo shed light on a news report that the government has released funds to the RPM-P/RPA/ABB.

“The funds are intended for development projects in the communities and will be coursed through appropriate government agencies that will implement the projects,” he said,.

Montalbo said OPAPP has only signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the provincial local government units but no release of fund was made yet pending the signing of a closure agreement. (PNA) RMA/RBC/utb

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