By Lilian C. Mellejor
DAVAO CITY, 19Sept2016 — The government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) of the Communist Party of the Philippines are expected to draw up the final bilateral ceasefire in the next round of the peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway on October 6 to 10.
Lawyer Angela Librado, a member of the GRP panel, said the final bilateral ceasefire is one of the major items during the next Oslo talks. Last August, both the Philippine government (GRP) and NDF agreed on implementing their respective ceasefires.
President Rodrigo Duterte re-imposed ceasefire on August 22 and this was reciprocated by the NDF at the close of the resumption of talks last August 26.
Librado explained a unified ceasefire agreement is necessary so that they can come up with deadlines. “We gave ourselves 60 days to draft (the bilateral truce),” Librado said during Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM Davao Annex.
Librado said the unified ceasefire agreement is crucial because it enables both parties to go around and seek consultations on the substantive agenda, one of which is the socioeconomic reforms.
Librado is optimistic both panels will achieve the bilateral ceasefire during the second round of talks.
“Both committees are trying to unify respective draft and discuss the ceasefire agreement shortly before the Oslo talks,” Librado said.
Both panels are still to discuss the details of the socio-economic reforms; political and constitutional reforms; and end of hostilities and disposition of forces; the amnesty proclamation; joint monitoring committees; further releases of detained NDF personnel; and the modality and mechanics of the ceasefire.
At the resumption of peace talks last August, both panels reached agreements on six major agenda. They reaffirmed all previously signed agreements between the GRP and the NDF that were started by The Hague Joint Declaration in 1992 and proceeded by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) in 1996 and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights And International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in 1998 which were all signed under the administration of President Fidel Ramos.
The panels also agreed to reconstitute the JASIG list after the first document was corrupted. The encrypted list will contain the photos and identities of NDF consultants who are still underground and will be immune to arrest while the peace process is ongoing.
The government will issue documents of acknowledgement for the NDF consultants still in hiding and for the 54 “publicly known NDF personalities.”
The negotiating parties agreed to accelerate the peace negotiations and set timelines for the completion of the remaining substantive agenda.
Meanwhile, another crucial agenda is on the release of political prisoners. Librado said there are two things that government is looking into: the cases of 434 detainees in different detention centers around the country and situation of the 100 detainees, who have reached senior years and those who are sickly.
President Duterte has ordered the release of 22 detained NDF consultants to fulfill a campaign promise to hold peace negotiations with the communist movement. Most of them were able to join the Oslo talks last August. (PNA)