Philippine govt, Left agree to restart peace talks

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/3/12 11:23:06

The Philippine government and the communist rebels have agreed to resume the peace talks to end the 48-year-old communist insurgency in the Philippines, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza announced on Sunday.

Dureza also said in a statement posted on his Facebook page that both sides have also agreed to restore their separate unilateral ceasefire before the fourth round of talks scheduled for the first week of April "as soon as their respective forces shall have been informed."

"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 which broke down weeks ago, are now back on track again," Dureza 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," he added.

Both sides have also agreed to hold the fifth round of formal peace negotiations in June.

He said the agreement was reached at informal talks held on March 10 and 11 in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Dureza said Philippine "President Rodrigo Duterte himself closely monitored the efforts taken by the negotiators."

"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," he said, adding that 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."

Dureza said that the effectivity of the agreement on safety and immunity guarantee that Duterte terminated has been restored to enable the rebel consultants and their staff who were in jail or otherwise constrained, to physically surface and join the peace work."

The announcement for the resumption of talks came more than a month after Duterte ordered the termination of the peace talks that he initiated with the rebels. Duterte has ordered an all-out war against the rebels after he halted the talks.

The rebels have been trying to overthrow the government since 1969. the conflict peaked in the 1980s, under the repressive government of Ferdinand Marcos.

However, military operation coupled with an internal split crippled the underground organization.

The number of guerrillas dwindled from 26,000 in the mid-1980s to less than 4,000 this year, according to the military.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the rebel forces remain a threat to national security. He added that an "all-out war" is necessary to deal a fatal blow to the rebels who refused to talk peace with the Duterte administration.

Posted in: ASIA-PACIFIC

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