Gov't, NDF to craft ceasefire guidelines in 60 days

Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 29 2016 06:14 PM | Updated as of Aug 30 2016 02:19 AM

MANILA - The Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) will be hammering out guidelines for a bilateral ceasefire in the next two months.

While the government and the NDF have declared their respective unilateral ceasefires, presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza noted that an interim bilateral ceasefire is needed to provide an "enabling environment" for peace negotiations.

 

The Philippine government and communist guerrillas on Friday signed an indefinite ceasefire deal to facilitate peace talks aimed at ending one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies.

Dureza explained, a bilateral ceasefire is important as this will pave the way for the entry of a third party monitor and mediator.

"Sa ngayon kasi, nag-coincide lang 'yung unilateral ceasefire, although both indefinite. (The two unilateral ceasefires just coincided, although both are indefinite). But we need to come up with mechanisms to make the ceasefire work. For example, there will be joint monitoring teams that will bring up supposed violations that may happen in the course of the ceasefire," Dureza said.

"We cannot throw incidents to the ground, but the idea is leadership on both sides to maintain a ceasefire, that is why it is important to have mechanisms to identify who will intervene in case an exchange of fire erupts and what process will be undertaken if such an event happens,'' he said.

The ceasefire agreement shall be deemed interim in relation to the outcomes of negotiations leading to a Comprehensive Agreement on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces.

While the government already have a template on the mechanisms previously included in a ceasefire agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the government will open the table for proposals from the communist rebels.

The Communist Party of the Philippines launched a rebellion in 1968 that has so far claimed the lives of 30,000 people, according to official estimates.

Its armed faction, the New People's Army (NPA), is now believed to have fewer than 4,000 gunmen, down from a peak of 26,000 in the 1980s, when a bloodless revolt ended the 20-year dictatorship of late president Ferdinand Marcos.

They remain particularly active in rural areas, where they are notorious for extorting money from local businesses. They also regularly attack police and military forces, sometimes targeting them in urban areas.

In 2002, the US State Department designated the Communist Party and the NPA as terrorist organizations.

Forging peace with the rebels has been the elusive goal of Philippine presidents since a 1986 revolution that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos. - with AFP