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.
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.
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.The parties are expected to start discussions on the bilateral ceasefire during the planned resumption of the negotiations during the first week of April, this year.
The effectivity of the agreement on safety and immunity guarantees (JASIG) that was also ordered terminated by 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.
President Duterte himself closely monitored the efforts taken by the negotiators while in Utrecht in the Netherlands in bringing about an early breakthrough in the talks with the facilitation by the Royal Norwegian Government. The informal talks took place March 10 & 11.
Statement of Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza on his meeting with President Duterte regarding updates on the peace process with some Cabinet members, including Secretaries Silvestre Bello III, Liza Masa, Judy Taguiwalo, and Rafael Mariano at Malacañang
We met with President Duterte until late last night and discussed the directions and possible next steps in our peace engagements with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF), the Bangsamoro, the Cordillerans, and the other stakeholders.
Statement of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza on the CPP/NPA/NDF’s call to proceed with the bilateral ceasefire negotiations
We welcome and respect the positive position coming from the leadership of the CPP/NPA/NDF. On the part of the Philippine government, we share the same commitment to work for just and lasting peace in the land. When “compelling reasons,” as President Duterte earlier announced, are present, then we in government shall take the next necessary steps. ###
We wish to announce that following the President’s pronouncement of the cancellation of the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) and, per his instructions, the Government of the Philippines (GRP) Panel served to the NDF today the Government’s notice of termination of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
Army Governance Forum | Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City | 07 February 2017 | Delivered by Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso
Men and women of valor, we now stand at a time when we, thus far, face the toughest hurdle in our peace and development roadmap. Over the weekend, President Duterte declared the cancellation of our peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), as well as with the two organizations within its broad network—the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA). Given that we ended the third round of talks in Rome, Italy only two weeks ago on a high note, the turn of events unfolded before us may be described as unfortunate to the budding good relations we have with the CPP/NPA/NDF.
If there is anyone who passionately dreams of — and works on —bringing about sustainable peace in the land, it is President Duterte. His judgment calls are directed towards this goal.
Statement of GRP Panel Chair Silvestre H. Bello III on CPP/NPA/NDF’s Cancellation of Unilateral Ceasefire
The last six months have given us a glimpse of the sort of peace that could emanate from the cessation of hostilities brought about by the re-opening of formal negotiations and the declaration of unilateral ceasefires by the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and National Democratic Front (NDF).
Violent clashes between the parties have gone down; displaced peoples and communities, particularly indigenous peoples, have begun returning to their homes; and economic investments and vital services have begun to flow into conflict-affected areas. Beyond these, our law enforcers have also been able to focus their attention to other serious criminal and terrorist threats.
It is, therefore, regrettable that the New People’s Army (NPA) has decided to withdraw their unilateral ceasefire effective 10 February 2017.
The Government Panel negotiating peace with the National Democratic Front firmly believes that the unilateral ceasefire declared by both parties in August last year was instrumental in moving the peace process forward. The ceasefire has also provided our people the opportunity to participate in the bigger peace table, enabling them to voice out their positions on the ongoing negotiations.
Hence, despite the NPA’s withdrawal of their ceasefire declaration, the Government Peace Panel has recommended to the President that we stand by our unilateral ceasefire.
We look forward to meeting with our NDF counterparts for the fourth round of talks in April and to discuss the possibility of a bilateral ceasefire agreement on February 22, as agreed upon during the third round of talks held in Rome.
It is our belief that such ceasefire agreement would set the ground rules on cessation of hostilities that could minimize, if not eliminate, the armed violence that affects communities.
In the meantime, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) shall continue to provide protection and relief from the potential renewal of violence resulting from the NPA’s recent declaration.
We shall also endeavour to continue the peace-building and development efforts in conflict areas with local government units at the forefront, supported by national agencies in the delivery of basic services to our people.
Finally, we encourage all Filipinos to add their voices to the growing clamour of those directly affected by violent conflict, for continuing the ceasefire, and the chance to actively participate in the discussion for socio-economic and political reforms vital to the success of a final political settlement. ###
We are dismayed with the announcement of New People’s Army spokesman Ka Oris withdrawing their unilateral ceasefire effective Feb 10.
This cancellation came just after some progress were made in the 3rd round of peace talks in Rome where negotiating panels from both sides agreed to further discuss a bilateral ceasefire in The Netherlands sometime end of this month.
We respect their decision.
On the part of the office of the presidential peace adviser, we will respectfully recommend to President Rodrigo R. Duterte that the government continues to maintain and uphold the unilateral ceasefire to sustain the peace in the communities where our people desire to live in peace. This will provide an enabling and conducive environment to the on-going peace talks. At the same time, we will recommend that government forces continue to be relentless in their campaign to protect the civilians from harm and terrorism.
We agree that the situation, with various incidents on the ground, had become untenable to sustain without the guidelines and protocols that a bilateral ceasefire provides.
This gives more impetus and encouragement to our earnest task of forging a sustainable ceasefire agreement.
Despite these, however, we are still hopeful that the search for peace will continue and the tragedy of Filipinos fighting fellow Filipinos will come to an early end.
As we always stress, the road to peace is not easy to traverse. What is important is that we all stay the course.