Gov’t, NDF panels swap interim ceasefire drafts
DAVAO CITY – Despite its rocky start, the fourth round of talks between the government and the National Democratic Front is gaining ground.
Now on its 3rd day of the negotiations, both peace panels have already exchanged drafts for an interim joint ceasefire agreement.
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said that on Wednesday morning the ceasefire committees have met to discuss how to reconcile the exchanged drafts.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza have also talked with President Rodrigo Duterte over the phone on Wednesday to report back about the recent developments and to seek further directives.
Sources disclosed that included in the discussions is the drafting of understanding to facilitate the release of a police officer and three soldiers captured by the New People’s Army in Mindanao.
As early as February 19, the Communist Party of the Philippines has ordered the NPA to accelerate the release of six government forces hoping that it would help create a better atmosphere to resume the halted talks.
“As a positive gesture, the Party calls on all concerned NPA units to expedite the release of the six prisoners of war (POWs) captured over the past days. The NPA commands in charge of the custodial units can work closely with third party facilitators,” the CPP earlier said.
The NPA, however, said that it would be difficult for them to facilitate the release unless the government would declare a Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO) and a Suspension of Police Operations (SOPO).
Since then, only two militiamen – Rene Doller and Carl Mark Nucos – were released in Mati City, Davao Oriental last March 24.
Still in captivity are Pfc Edwin Salan, who was captured in Alegria, Surigao del Norte; Sgt. Solaiman Calucop and Pfc Samuel Garay, who were captured in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat; and PO2 Jerome Natividad who was captured in Talakag, Bukidnon.
Sources said that included in the present discussions are the role of third party facilitators and the issuances of SOMO and SOPO.
Meanwhile, both parties are also expected to make progress in the discussions on reconciling the drafts on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms aside from the ceasefire negotiations.
The peace panels are looking at the possible modalities of land and agrarian reform.
Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano is joining the government peace panel as a resource person in the discussions.
The fourth round of talks is scheduled to end on Thursday with the peace panels hoping that they would be able to agree and bring home an interim ceasefire agreement.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.