Gov't, Reds agree to push for holiday ceasefire


Posted at Dec 22 2019 10:07 AM | Updated as of Dec 22 2019 09:45 PM

MANILA -- (UPDATE) The government's peace panel and the National Democratic Front Panel (NDFP) have agreed to recommend a nationwide ceasefire over the holidays following President Rodrigo Duterte's hint at a possible resumption of peace negotiations.

In a joint statement posted on social media by exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison, the two parties said they recommended a "unilateral and reciprocal" ceasefire from 12 a.m. of Dec. 23 to 11:59 p.m. of Jan. 7.

"The ceasefires are intended to generate a positive environment conducive to the holding of informal talks preparatory to the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations," it read.

"These shall be measures of goodwill and confidence building during the traditional celebrations of Christmas and New Year holidays."

Those who signed the statement were former chief negotiator, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, government negotiator Hernani Barganza, NDFP senior adviser Luis Jalandoni, and NDFP chairperson Fidel Agcaoili.

Duterte may have already received the recommendation on Sunday, his spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

"It is time communist rebels rejoin society," Panelo said as the President's message for the 51st anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

"Tama na 'yung limang dekadang pakikipaglaban na ang resulta ay maraming patay sa magkabilang panig. Kinakailangan magkaroon na tayo ng matagalang kapayapaan sa ating bansa," Panelo said in an interview with Radyo Inquirer.

Malacañang earlier said the government is still keen on restarting peace negotiations with communist rebels even after Duterte ordered the military to crush its armed wing, the New People's Army.

The President formally terminated peace talks with the rebels in March, saying he would no longer entertain any "persuasions" from the communists.

Bello said government might restart stalled peace talks with communist rebels next month after the 2 sides iron out several "goodwill measures."

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, in a statement, called on both sides to resume peace negotiations "without preconditions and based on previously signed and binding agreements."

"We, the people, should be in the lookout for the militarists and saboteurs who will do everything to prevent a political, just and lasting solution to the more than five-decade-old armed rebellion in our country," he said.