The Philippine government and the National Democratic Front signed on Saturday the supplemental guidelines of a joint monitoring committee under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) , as peace negotiations entered its third round in Rome, Italy.
Government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III said the joint committee is a vital component to the peace process because it will oversee possible violations of military troops and communist rebels in areas of conflict.
Asked whether a joint bilateral ceasefire can be signed in the third round of talks, NDF chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said it will depend on the government panel and reiterated their demand for the release of 392 political prisoners.
“The implementation of CAHRIL requires the release of the 392 political prisoners immediately because they are charged with common crimes and then some of them have been asked to withdraw their appeals so they should really be released immediately,” Agcaoili said.
Agcaoili also raised the NDF’s interest in having a copy of the military’s new security program, Oplan Kapayapaan, saying it can help in “working out” a bilateral ceasefire.
“There is really a need for a bilateral agreement because if you don’t have a bilateral ceasefire agreement, you won’t know the alleged violations. That is why there is really a need now to come up with a joint ceasefire agreement so we will know what these violations are and how these violations will be treated,” Bello said.
—Reports from Danny Buenafe, ABS-CBN News