MANILA, Philippines – The ceasefire between the Philippine military and the communist New People’s Army — close to 4 weeks — is the “longest Christmas truce between both parties,” Presidential Adviser for Peace Teresita Deles said in a statement.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines declared a ceasefire last Dec. 16, which will last until Jan. 2, 2013. On the other hand, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) ordered the NPA to halt offensive operations from Dec. 20 to Jan. 15, 2013.
“There is so much to be thankful and hopeful for,” Deles said in a statement. Both sides, she added, “have agreed to continue discussions that will hopefully lead to an extended, indefinite truce.”
Peace panels representing the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front, the NPA’s political arm, held talks in The Hague last week, where the the latter proposed the creation of a committee on national unity.
Communist guerrillas made the offer during “special track” talks between both sides last December 17 and 18 in The Hague. “The ‘special track’ means the offer of alliance and truce offered by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to the government of the Philippines,” Luis Jalandoni, the rebels’ chief negotiator, said in a previous statement.
Both sides would form a “Committee of National Unity, Peace and Development” to implement agrarian reform, rural development and national industrialization, he added. “On the basis of the above-mentioned points, a truce would be declared and implemented,” Jalandoni said.
The communist insurgency in the Philippines is the longest running in Asia. Peace negotiations between both sides began in 1986, after dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted, but the on-again, off-again talks have not moved beyond minor agreements.
On the other hand, the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation has reached the crucial second phase where both parties are expected to agree on the details of how the Framework Agreement will be implemented. The Framework Agreement, signed in October, sets the stage for the creation of the Bangsamoro region.
Deles said she’s confident that the peace negotiations with the two rebel groups would lead to “permanent peace.” – Rappler.com