MANILA, Philippines – There is no danger of the communist rebels breaking the ceasefire over the holidays amid their protests against government delay in releasing political prisoners, according to Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison.
“The unilateral ceasefire declarations of the GRP [government of the Republic of the Philippines] and NDFP [National Democratic Front] will stand during the Christmas and New Year holidays,” Sison said in a Facebook post Tuesday afternoon, December 20, in The Netherlands (Tuesday evening in Manila).
The Facebook post comes after Sison had a “productive phone conversation” with President Rodrigo Duterte Monday night, December 19, to “advance” the negotiations.
Sison’s post also comes before the CPP’s 48th anniversary celebration on December 26. The communist rebels said they will hold peace rallies on that day.
The unilateral ceasefires separately declared in August by the military and the NPA have been holding, but complaints against each other’s activities are growing louder on the ground.
Sison said the better set up – a bilateral ceasefire agreement that will establish common rules – will need more time.
Both panels initially aimed to have signed the joint deal by October, but communist rebels have stalled talks pending the release of political prisoners. Government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III hoped that the joint deal would be signed before yearend.
But Sison said more time is needed to discuss both issues.
“Bilateral ceasefire agreement and the amnesty and release of the political prisoners listed by the NDFP can be discussed and agreed upon before, during and even after the third round of formal talks in Rome from January 18 to 24,” Sison said.
The talks are facilitated by Norway, where the first 2 rounds of talks were held. They changed the venue of the 3rd round of talks to Italy because Oslo will be too cold in January. – Rappler.com
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