Philippine gov’t, Reds agree to resume formal peace talks
The peace process between the Philippine government and the communist National Democratic Front will resume next month after it was stalled more than a month ago.
In a statement released on Sunday, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said the fourth round of talks with the communist rebels will be held by first week of April.
The agreement was reached during the informal talks in the Utrecht, Netherlands facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government from March 10 to 11.
“I am pleased to announce that the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines/ New People’s Army / National Democratic Front which broke down weeks ago, are now back on track again,” Dureza said.
President Rodrigo Duterte decided to terminate the formal peace talks with the NDF, the political wing of the CPP-NPA, in early February after the leftist rebels attacked government troopers, resulting to the death of six soldiers. The ambuscades were launched despite the existing unilateral ceasefires by both sides.
Prior to the resumption of the talks next month, Dureza said the restoration of unilateral truce will be effective.
Both parties are also expected to discuss the bilateral ceasefire during the resumption of the negotiations.
“The unilateral ceasefire is a prelude to an interim bilateral ceasefire that needs further meetings between the two sides to determine and agree on rules, necessary guidelines and mechanisms," Dureza said.
The Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees that Duterte terminated is also restored in order for the NDF consultants and their staff “who were in jail or otherwise constrained, to physically surface and join in the peace work,” Dureza said.
In a separate statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella expressed hope that the leadership of the Maoist group could “rein in its forces on the ground in reciprocating the efforts of the Duterte administration to move the peace process forward.”
“Peace-building, after all, is not the exclusive responsibility of the government. The burden is also shared by those who claim to speak for the underserved,” he said.
He added the resumption of the peace talks is a welcome sign that both sides are in agreement about the common good of the Filipino people. Ella Dionisio/DMS