‘No ceasefire yet, let CASER finish’

Contributed Photo, 4th round peacetalks in Netherlands

By BicolToday.com Staff

NETHERLANDS, 6April2017 (BicolToday.com) – “Let me clarify that there is no ceasefire yet.  It will be implemented when the CASER is finished,” NDFP consultant Wilma Tiamzon said during the 4th round peacetalks in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) agreed to work together to forge an interim joint ceasefire agreement through a document entitled Agreement on an Interim Joint Ceasefire which was signed, April 5, by NDFP panel chair Fidel Agcaoili and GRP panel chair Silvestre Bello III.

The interim joint ceasefire agreement shall be signed simultaneous to, or immediately after, the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

CASER is expected to be finished within the year.

According to Royal Norwegian Government facilitator Elisabeth Slattum, the parties are “flexible and creative” in coming up with the document which would be put into effect upon the signing of the guidelines and ground rules.

Slattum said the agreement is aimed at generating goodwill and trust in the peace process.

She added that the interim joint ceasefire deal is to encourage the forging of a more stable and more comprehensive joint ceasefire agreement and to provide a more enabling environment for the signing of the CASER.

The interim joint ceasefire agreement shall be effective until a permanent ceasefire is forged as part of the Comprehensive Agreement on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces.

Both parties agreed to direct their respective Ceasefire Committees to meet even in-between formal talks “to discuss, formulate, and finalize the guidelines and ground rules for the implementation” of the agreement.

The Comprehensive Joint Ceasefire Agreement is expected to be more stable than the previous unilateral ceasefires that existed from August 2016 to January 2017.

The prospective ceasefire’s guidelines and ground rules shall govern the presence of armed units and elements of both parties in local communities and the creation of buffer zones.

They shall include an agreement on what constitutes prohibited, hostile, and provocative acts. They will also provide for a ceasefire monitoring and verification mechanism to oversee the ceasefire’s implementation and handle complaints and alleged violations.

The signed Agreement on an Interim Joint Ceasefire also said discussions to resolve the issue of a single government authority and taxation shall be included in the discussions of political and constitutional reforms, the third substantive agenda of the negotiations as listed down in The Hague Joint Declaration. [BicolToday.com]


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