DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said that the restoration of the unilateral ceasefire is not yet effective until the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines have informed their respective forces and the Parties agree on a specific date.
In a statement posted on his Facebook account, Dureza who is still in Amsterdam after the two-day informal talks in Utrecht, said the effectivity date of the ceasefire “shall commence as soon as both sides agree to a date specific which should be any time before the first week of April.”
The date coincides with the scheduled resumption of the fourth round of talks as stated in the Utrecht Joint Statement.
Dureza’s statement came as reports of the burning of bus in Makilala town, North Cotabato by suspected members of the New People’s Army reached him.
In an Inquirer report, police authorities said the armed men introduced themselves as members of the NPA before torching a Yellow Bus in Barangay San Vicente, Makilala town 8:30 am Monday.
Dureza said: “The restoration of unilateral ceasefire that has been announced is NOT yet effective as of today as there is still a need to allow the government and the communist leaders to inform their respective ground forces accordingly.”
“Except for the government forces where there is a tight command and control structure in place and directives from higher headquarters are downloaded expeditiously, the same is NOT true with the NPAs, for obvious reasons,” he said.
Dureza said he has “informally” raised the possibility of incidents that might erupt prior to the effectivity date of the ceasefire in the negotiating table.
“Hence, the urgency of an early effectivity announcement considering my previous experience of similar situations in my earlier ceasefire negotiations with other groups,” he said.
He said some groups might create “disturbances just to show defiance or merely as an attempt of projection of eminence by some of their elements.”
Dureza on Sunday, announced the resumption of the peace talks after the successful two-day informal talks held in Utrecht, The Netherlands on March 10 and 11.
The parties signed a Joint Statement where they agreed to reaffirm all the earlier bilateral agreements and statements in the previous peace talks such as on The Hague Join Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
An interim bilateral ceasefire agreement will also be signed only after “the terms of reference and other considerations shall have been settled.”
“The Parties agree to reinstate their respective unilateral ceasefire which shall take effect before the scheduled fourth round of talks in April 2017 as soon as their respective forces shall have been informed,” the Joint Statement reads.
The government, for its part, would ensure the participation of the four detained political consultants in the fourth round and succeeding talks. Likewise, it also vowed to release all the political prisoners listed by the NDFP before the start of the forthcoming talks.
The next round of peace talks will be held in the first week of April this year while the fifth round is slated in June. (davaotoday.com)