Stand-down deal with Reds delayed, Joma says

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2018 10:50 AM

This photo taken on July 30, 2017 shows guerrillas of the New People's Army (NPA) resting among bushes in the Sierra Madre mountain range, located east of Manila. Noel Celis, Agence France-Presse

MANILA -- A stand-down agreement supposed to be simultaneously announced with Maoist rebels Thursday has been delayed for a week to allow government to ensure the participation of several consultants in the peace talks, the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines said Wednesday.

Most of these consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are expected to be cleared before Friday to join the talks, said Jose Maria Sison.

"The stand down will begin on June 21, a full week ahead of the June 28 resumption of formal talks in Oslo," he told ABS-CBN News.

Both sides were initially set to announce a stand-down deal Thursday, two weeks ahead of formal negotiations.

But Sison, who joined backchannel talks in The Netherlands last week, said the government sought the new schedule "to have more time for effecting the release" of six NDFP consultants.

Rafael Baylosis was detained earlier this year after negotiations bogged down.

Benito Tiamzon, Adel Silva, Alan Jazmines, Randal Echanis, and Vicente Ladlad could also be arrested since their bail was cancelled in connection with a government petition proscribing the CPP and its armed wing as terrorist organizations.

CEASEFIRE

They were "needed for the polishing" of the coordinated unilateral ceasefire deal, which will form part of the interim peace agreement to be signed on June 28, he said.

Sison said the two sides would spend June 15 to 18 to "polish" the two other components of the interim accord—agreements on agrarian reform and the nationalization of certain industries.

The stand-down agreement precludes government forces and the rebels from committing "any offensive action or operation against combatants and civilians."

Both sides will also "stay where they are" and "take an active defense mode," according to a copy of the deal obtained by ABS-CBN News.

The agreement will then be replaced by a clearer and more binding coordinated unilateral ceasefire deal once formal talks resumed.