THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) expressed its keenness to be “flexible” in discussing the provisions of the Government of the Republic of the Philippine’s (GRP) demand to have a bilateral ceasefire agreement to end armed hostilities.
“The NDFP negotiating panel is willing to be flexible and is open to discuss with its counterpart what kind of bilateral ceasefire agreement is desired by the GRP in place of the unilateral ceasefire,” NDFP panel Chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said in a statement issued on Friday, hours after the GRP announced its decision not to reciprocate their possible unilateral ceasefire declaration.
Last week, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) announced that they will be declaring a truce not later than March 31, before the resumption of peace talks on Monday, however, the government has not announced their declaration so far.
Silvestre Bello III, chairperson of the government peace panel on Thursday, said that the government is more interested in achieving a bilateral ceasefire agreement instead of a unilateral ceasefire which can be recalled has been lifted twice in a row due to series of clashes that resulted to the surge of fatalities of the government troops and waged an all-out war.
They also considered GRP’s last minute announcement not to restore its unilateral ceasefire as “unexpected departure” from their March 11 backchannel agreement wherein both parties agreed to reinstate their respective unilateral ceasefires before the start of the fourth round of peace talks today.
The NDFP believed the bilateral ceasefire agreement can be achieved as they would mutually agree with the Joint Statement at the end of the peace talk.
“The NDFP and the GRP agreed to this measure in the interim in order to move the talks forward and improve the atmosphere for negotiations after the impasse last February,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said both parties will continue to “hammer out a single joint ceasefire document that will take a longer time to forge in conjunction with the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms and the amnesty and release of all political prisoners as listed by the NDFP.”
“The NDFP is fully prepared to craft a draft common agreement with the GRP on socio-economic reforms before the end of the year,” he said.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on April 01, 2017.
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