Gov’t, Reds to finalize ceasefire
ILOILO CITY—The government and communist rebels plan to finalize a bilateral ceasefire agreement in the next round of peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway, next week.
Ma. Concepcion Araneta-Bocala, a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and member of the Joint Monitoring Committee, said the bilateral ceasefire was one of the key issues to be tackled in next week’s peace talks.
She said a bilateral ceasefire would bound both parties to mutually agreed parameters and ensure that any violation would be acted upon.
The NDFP declared a unilateral and indefinite ceasefire on Aug. 27, at the conclusion of the formal opening of the resumption of the peace negotiations also held in Oslo.
President Duterte also ordered an indefinite ceasefire on Aug. 21.
But Bocala said they had received reports from units of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, that government troops were still conducting combat operations in certain areas including in Mindanao and Southern Luzon.
“NPA units have been conducting evasive maneuvers to avoid armed clashes based on reports we have received,” Bocala told the Inquirer at the sidelines of a forum on the peace negotiations here.
She said the bilateral ceasefire would provide clear parameters on the implementation of the ceasefire, including the pullout of government troops in rebel-held areas.
The NDFP will also push for the scrapping of Oplan Bayanihan, the government’s counterinsurgency program.
Reciprocal working committees (RWC) on social and economic reforms (SER) will also meet in Oslo next week to discuss drafts of both parties.
Bocala said land reform and national industrialization would be the key issues in talks on social and economic reforms.
“These are the heart and soul of the peace negotiations which will largely determine the plight of the talks,” she said.
The NDFP remains optimistic that agreements on land reform and industrialization will be finalized.
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