6 April 2017 | Noordwilk Aan Zee, The Netherlands

We conclude today the fourth round of talks in exuberance knowing that it has contributed immensely to the quest for an enduring peace for our people. By this common ground, we forged yesterday an agreement on the Interim Joint Ceasefire. This is a significant milestone in the peace process given the divide that has characterized it for decades. Let this Interim Ceasefire progress towards a permanent one.

Our discussions during the past days were indeed difficult and exigent. The resolve of the panels to move the process forward, animated us to achieve a breakthrough in a ceasefire agreement that will accompany the peace talks throughout, a ceasefire that matches in-step with the anticipated agreements on socio-economic and political and constitutional reforms that will address the roots of the armed conflict.

I personally commend, therefore, the flexibility of both panels in addressing the issues that tend to divide us during our discussions, their flexibility which allowed us to navigate the issues during the negotiations, can be equated to that of a guerilla who is likened by Professor Joma Sison to a poet in the immortal poem he wrote in 1968 and I quote “A guerilla is like a poet – keen to the rustle of the leaves, the break of the twigs, the ripples of the river, the smell of fire, and the ashes of departure” end of quote. We shall need the same flexibility when we discuss and agree on the implementing guidelines and mechanisms for the Interim Joint Ceasefire.

In officially concluding this round-of-talks, allow me to dedicate the headway we attained to President Duterte whose resolute support to the peace process has invariably advance our negotiations this far. I also recognize the guiding hands of the Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza and Professor Joma Sison for bridging the differences in the positions we took during the negotiations. And let me not forget the indomitable Fidel Agcaoili. Our perseverance and patience worked at the end. May I also invite you in thanking our Third Party Facilitator, Ambassador Elisabeth Slattum and her group, for their enabling support and assistance in the conduct of the talks.

While we celebrate on our gains in this round of talks, you will agree with me that more effort has to be exerted to truly harvest the fruits of the peace negotiations. Let us, therefore, claim the proud badge of peace workers that we now rightfully deserve.

I look forward to seeing you in the next round of talks. Thank you.