The Daily Manila Shimbun


No sign peace talks with communists will be cancelled

February 4, 2017

The peace talks with the communists will continue amid the Philippine government’s termination of the six-month ceasefire last Friday.

“It will continue, the scheduled peace talks from 22 up to 25 (February). There are no changes," said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, chairman of the government’s negotiating panel with the National Democratic Front, in an interview with government station dzRB Saturday.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Friday night Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza is also expecting peace talks to proceed this month.

“He (President Rodrigo Duterte) did not say stop the talks. So, Secretary Dureza who is with us earlier is still expecting that it will continue. He (Dureza) said that because he has been participating in the peace process for a long time,” Lorenzana said.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año also expressed his belief that the termination of the unilateral ceasefire will not compromise the peace negotiations.

“Not really because we have already experienced where peace negotiations continued even without the existence of ceasefire. Well, of course the environment is much better if there is a ceasefire specially if there is a bilateral ceasefire,” he said.

“Well our government is always flexible, in fact as long as it can bend our government will do it, just to pursue peace but it also defends of the confidence and initiative NDF CPP NPA…,” he added.

Bello said among the issues during the next round of talks will include a proposed bilateral ceasefire agreement.

“It is much better to have a bilateral ceasefire agreement, so the parameters, definitions of terms specify the ceasefire violations,” Bello said.

“Like the collection of tax… Is it a violation that should be clarified if there is a bilateral ceasefire agreement?…. If there is a ceasefire violation. we will know what to do. Who will serve as the referee?,” he added.

Lorenzana and Año noted the importance of the bilateral cease fire for the military.

“That is why our peace negotiators are working for bilateral ceasefire so we can have a mechanism, there is a mechanism to control the actions of both sides,” Lorenzana said.

“We want to have a bilateral ceasefire so that the areas where they were saying that they were authorized to stay will be written there. So that we can say that there is really order on where they are and to prevent encounters,” Año said.

He also noted recent attacks and violent actions of the armed members of the communist group show there is misunderstanding within their group.

“Maybe this is also a sign there is misunderstanding between their negotiators and NPA on the ground. They should resolve that,” Año said. Robina Asido/DMS