THE stalled peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front and the government will resume in April, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza announced last Sunday.
“I am pleased to announce that the peace negotiations between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front [CPP-NPA- NDF], which broke down weeks ago, are now back on track.” Dureza said.
The talks bogged down after President Duterte ordered the government panel talking with the NDF to return to Manila after he declared the peace negotiations over and scrapped the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) signed by both parties.
The police also arrested an NDF consultant in Davao City right after Duterte’s order on the termination of the talks.
Duterte was miffed when the NPA announced the lifting of its unilateral cease-fire on February 1, which would take effect on February 10, claiming that the President had failed to rein in his troops that have occupied 500 villages, where the guerrillas were operating, and his failure to release more than 400 activists held in various detention facilities.
Late last week Duterte also ordered the Armed Forces and the National Police to use all of their offensive assets to “flatten the hills” and operate against the NPA.
Despite the tough rhetoric during the wake of the policemen killed in an ambush in Bansalan, Davao del Norte, last week, Dureza met with NDF representatives in backchannel talks abroad to agree on the resumption of negotiations.
The government and the NDF are set to meet for another round of talks in Norway next month.
Dureza said both parties also discussed the possibility of restoring their unilateral cease-fires.
“At the same time, the unilateral [government] cease-fire that was also earlier terminated is deemed restored and reinstated, but will be made effective only as soon as the respective forces of both sides are duly informed but definitely before the next round of talks in April 2017,” he announced.
Dureza added, “The unilateral cease-fire is a prelude to an interim bilateral cease-fire that needs further meetings between the two sides to determine and agree on rules, guidelines and mechanisms.”
He added, “The parties are expected to start discussions on the bilateral cease-fire during the planned resumption of the negotiations during the first week of April this year.”
Moreover, Dureza said, “the effectivity of the Jasig that was also ordered terminated by the President has been restored to enable the NDF consultants and their staff, who were in jail or otherwise constrained, to physically surface and join in the peace work.”