DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza and peace advocate Sowing the Seeds of Peace in Mindanao welcomed the Communist Party of the Philippines’ ‘openness’ to ink a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the government if President Rodrigo Duterte decides to send the government panel to the scheduled talks on February 22-27 in the Netherlands.
“We welcome the pronouncement of the Communist Party of the Philippines to discuss the forging of a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines,” Bishop Felixberto Calang Main Convenor of Sowing the Seeds of Peace in Mindanao said in a statement Monday.
Dureza, meanwhile, said that while the government “welcome and respect the positive position coming from the leadership of the CPP/NPA/NDF” it also “share the same commitment to work for just and lasting peace in the land.”
He, however, pointed out that the government would undertake the necessary steps when “compelling reasons are present” as announced by the president.
But Calang said if the bilateral ceasefire pact happens, “it will restore the timetable of the talks and allow the February and April negotiations to push.”
“A restored timetable means we can anticipate the unveiling of a draft Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms later this year, a blueprint for socio-economic transformation that the Filipino people have long struggled for,” he said.
He also described the government’s termination of the JASIG and the subsequent declaration of an all-out war by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a “series of unfortunate events,” saying it overshadowed the successful outcome of the third round of talks in Rome, Italy.
“This tried-and-failed formula of all-out war did not only dash hopes for the continuity of the talks but have led to the displacement of rural communities hit by aerial bombardments in the hinterlands. This is compelling reason to return to the negotiating table aside from the urgency of the signing of social and economic reforms,” Calang emphasized.
Calang’s group is also offering as the Third Party facilitator when the CPP over the weekend called for the release of AFP and PNP personnel held captives as prisoners of war by the New People’s Army.
“We shall undertake the formation of Crisis and Peace Bridging Committees as part of this facilitation. President Duterte’s peace panel continues to be hopeful that the peace negotiations will be back on track. These gestures from the GRP and the NDF and CPP prove once more that when both sides are willing to bend backwards for the benefit of the Filipino people, we can all march in step making the extra miles, not just one, for the sake of a just and lasting peace,” he said. (davaotoday.com)