MANILA - Representatives for the government and communist rebels resumed peace negotiations in the Philippines this week, aiming to fast-track efforts to end of the world's longest-running Maoist insurgencies.
The establishment of a bilateral ceasefire and the strengthening of human rights monitoring mechanisms were among items expected to be discussed in Manila, according to the government peace panel. The last round of talks were held in Oslo, Norway.
"This is another breakthrough in the peace process. The peace panels, through their committees and sub-committees, are holding talks in the Philippines, not only in Oslo, to fast-track the peace negotiations," former Agrarian Reform Sec. and peace panel member Hernani Braganza said.
"What we have at the moment is a unilateral ceasefire declared by both parties. We hope to sign a bilateral agreement in Oslo for a joint ceasefire, which is more durable and permanent," said Braganza.
A bilateral ceasefire would prevent "misencounters" between the military and communist guerillas, he said.
"[We had agreed] to reconcile and develop their separate unilateral ceasefire orders into a single unified bilateral document within 60 days," he said.
But Braganza noted that this would still be up for approval when the formal talks resume in Oslo in October.
Also among the items approved in principle during the meeting in Manila this week were: the maintenance of office with dedicated personnel to receive complaints on violations of Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and joint activities such as information and education campaign on human rights and international humanitarian law.
The government panel was led by human rights lawyer Efren Moncupa while the NDF contingent was led by panel members Fidel Agcaoili, Coni Ledesma and Concha Araneta-Bocala.