By BicolToday.com Staff
LEGAZPI CITY, 13March2017 (BicolToday.com) – Due to public clamor for the resumption of the peace negotiations, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) agreed to hold the fourth round of formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) set on the first week of April.
Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced earlier that Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza has left for Europe on March 8 to lead the GRP delegation in the talks for the possible resumption of formal peace negotiations between the parties.
They also allowed the departure of NDFP Negotiating Panel member Benito Tiamzon and consultants Wilma Austria Tiamzon and Vicente Ladlad to participate in the concluded backchannel talks with the GRP.
President Rodrigo Duterte announced informal talks are being held to resume the formal negotiations he suspended last month.
NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili for his part said the six government troopers captured by the New People’s Army will soon be freed as soon as the GRP orders the suspension of military and police operations in areas where the releases are to be held.
Agcaoili said the release of captured GRP soldiers is proof of NDFP’s good faith in the ongoing back-channel negotiations.
Backchannel negotiations held in Utrecht, the Netherlands on March 10 – 11 put the peace process back on track with several new agreements.
The Parties shall continue the formal peace talks and reiterate their reaffirmation of all bilateral agreements and statements made in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, including The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) according to their joint statement.
The Parties agree to forge an interim bilateral ceasefire agreement which shall take effect after the terms of reference and other considerations shall have been settled. In forging the interim bilateral ceasefire agreement, the Parties shall take due consideration of the issues and concerns raised by each Party in relation to the previous 6-month (August 2016 to February 2017) unilateral ceasefire of the other Party.
In the meantime, the Parties agree to reinstate their respective unilateral ceasefires which shall take effect before the scheduled fourth round of talks in April 2017 as soon as their respective forces shall have been informed.
In accordance with the reactivated JASIG and in order to ensure the continuous participation in the peace negotiations of the 19 NDFP consultants and staff who were released in August 2016, the GRP shall release a rearrested consultant, ensure the safety and liberty of all the consultants, as well as undertake the necessary measures including the extension or reinstatement of their bail, as the case may be, and other legal remedies to enable their free and unhindered movement.
The GRP reiterates its commitment in the Rome Joint Statement of January 25, 2017 with respect to the release of NDFP consultants and political prisoners listed by the NDFP.
The GRP shall ensure the participation of the four (4) detained consultants in the fourth round of the peace talks and thereafter.
The GRP also agreed to release NDFP consultant Ariel Arbitrario who was rearrested in Davao City last February 6 along with fellow consultants Eduardo Sarmiento, Emeterio Antalan, Leopoldo Caloza and Edgardo Friginal who are detained at the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.
GRP shall exert best efforts to release them before the start of the said round.
The GRP shall also work for the release of nineteen (19) political prisoners based on humanitarian or other grounds on or before the said round of talks. [BicolToday.com]