Peace Talks - FSN
Cartoon by Roni Santiago

It is heartwarming to note that the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) have resumed the stalled peace negotiations and that the formal talks will begin next month (April) at Utrecht in the Netherlands.

The resumption of the peace talks was announced last March 12 by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza.

Dureza said,  “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 (CPP-NPA-NDF), which broke down weeks ago, are now back on track again.”

He also said, “At the same time, a unilateral ceasefire 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.”

It was recalled that the government and CPP-NPA-NDF terminated last month their unilateral ceasefires following accusations of insincerity and atrocities.

President Duterte lifted the ceasefire after the rebels launched a series of attack against soldiers in Mindanao, a move that was seen to pressure the government into releasing some 400 political prisoners. The CPP-NPA-NDF also terminated its ceasefire on Feb. 10.

Dureza said the restored unilateral ceasefire “is a prelude to an interim bilateral ceasefire that needs further meetings between the two sides to determine and agree on rules, guidelines and mechanisms.”

He said the joint agreement on safety and immunity guarantees that was also ordered terminated by the President takes effect again to enable NDF consultants to physically surface and join in the peace talks.

“President Duterte himself closely monitored the efforts by the negotiators while in Utrecht  in bringing about ay breakthrough in the talks with the facilitation by the Royal Norwegian Government,” he also said. The informal talks took place on March 10 to 11.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, vice chair of the House Special Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, welcomed the breakthrough in the peace talks between the government and the communist rebels, saying it is a very welcome development.

We are certain that the resumption of the peace talks is also welcomed by people in the countryside who have been long gripped by fear as a result of the activities of the rebels in rural villages.

At night every time dogs bark, the rural folks are stricken by fear, suspecting that heavily armed NPA rebels are again “patrolling” their village. The rebels ask villagers for food and sometime they “request” that they are served hot meals.

The villagers hope that the resumption of the talks will eventually lead to a lasting peace in their communities.

With Peace Adviser Dureza leading the government panel, we, too, are hopeful that the decades-long insurgency will end soon.


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