Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said the military in Negros hopes that President Benigno Aquino III will sign the closure peace agreement between the government and the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa-Pilipinas-Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (Tabara-Paduano Group) by the end of this month.
Lactao, who supervises the internal peace and security operations in Negros Occidental, said that all required documents for the closure agreement, including resolutions of support from peace and order councils, have already been signed by various stakeholders.
He said the documents have been forwarded to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos –Deles, for signature before it is forwarded to Malacañang to be signed by President Aquino.
The RPA-ABB and its political wing, the RPM-P, founded by former CPP Visayas Commission secretary Arturo Tabara, entered into peace talks with the government in 2000.Four years after, Tabara was assassinated in Metro Manila by suspected members of the NPA hit squad. His wife, Veronica, replaced him as the RPM-P secretary.
OPPAP Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo had said that the key provisions of the agreement are geared towards the transformation of the RPA-ABB into a civilian, political, economic organization, mainstreaming its members into their communities, providing them with livelihood and employment, and moving them towards disarmament and dismantling of their military structure.
Of the more than 800 RPM-P/RPA-ABB members, about 50 percent are in Negros island.
OPAPP is also negotiating with the other group, the RPM-P-RPA-ABB, that is headed by Nilo de la Cruz.
Lactao said the signing of the peace agreement with the RPA-ABB is a major breakthrough in the search for the elusive peace in country. He, however, described as an isolated incident the alleged involvement of some RPA-ABB members in the killing of Kabankalan Regional Trial Court Judge Henry Arles, an added that it will not affect the peace agreement.
If it is proven that they are involved, Lactao said he believes those individuals acted on their own, and the whole organization has nothing to do with it.
He admitted that there are some groups trying to stop the closure agreement, because it will have a great impact on NPA members, who are still fighting and endure hardships in the mountains, while their leaders are enjoying luxurious lifestyles.* GPB