Joint ceasefire seen to happen soon – Bello

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GRP and NDFP panels sign the joint statement during the formal peace talks in Oslo, Norway. Altermidya Photo (File photo)
GRP and NDFP panels sign the joint statement during the formal peace talks in Oslo, Norway. Altermidya Photo (File photo)

By BicolToday.com News Team

MANILA, 24October2016 (BicolToday.com) – Signing of a joint and permanent ceasefire between the government and the insurgents is expected to happen by the end of November or the first week of December according to government peace panel chair.

“[Both parties] agreed that we will consider and hopefully agree on the signing of a joint, permanent ceasefire within the period of 60 days from the time of August 27, so you count it from there, it should be October 26 [in which] we will be signing [the] joint, permanent ceasefire,” said Government peace panel in talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) chair Silvestre Bello III.

“[The problem is] Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza will be with the President in Japan, so will I, and I don’t want to miss [the] historic signing. We are the ones who should sign so we asked for a resetting of the signing either towards the end of November or first week of December,” Bello added.

In the 30-year history of the peace negotiations between the government and the CPP/NPA/NDF, the talks have been disrupted for at least 15 times mainly due to two issues: the release of detained NDF consultants; and the declaration of ceasefire. Both issues were addressed by the Duterte government before the formal resumption of peace talks last August 22-28 in Oslo.

The first in the last five years, the talks last August yielded positive results with the reaffirmation of all previously signed agreements between the GRP and the NDF including the Hague Joint Declaration in 1992; 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.

Last September 22, GRP-NDF peace panel members met anew in Manila to discuss the possibility of a bilateral ceasefire agreement between the two parties and the revitalization of their monitoring mechanism for human rights and international humanitarian law.

“I am pleased to tell you that unlike in the previous processes, this time, we see the light at the end of the tunnel. Secretary Dureza and I were discussing this and he said that this is the only time that they felt the peace negotiation has a direction,” Bello recalled.

“This is the only time that we feel that our principal is similar during the time of former President Ramos that has the political will and having that, he was making bold steps to resurrect the moribund peace process,” he said.

“Hopefully, with this other succeeding bold decisions, we may be able to succeed to bring this process into its logical conclusion and that is, lasting peace for our country,” the government chief negotiator said positively.

According to him, ceasefire is a separate issue although the releases of political prisoners can be taken as a confidence building measure which would motivate the other party to finally not only go to into signing but upgrading the level of ceasefire from unilateral, indefinite to joint and permanent ceasefire. [BicolToday.com]

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