ROME, Italy — The government peace panel and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines will meet again of the fourth week of next month to discuss the proposed bilateral ceasefire agreement and issues on the implementation of the provisions of Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law directly connected to the ceasefire.
“They received it and they initialed the draft. And they proposed that for the discussion of the draft we will have to come back on the 22nd or 24th of February,” Government peace panel chairperson Silvestre Bello III Bello told reporters in an interview here on Tuesday.
“The commitment we got from them they would seriously consider and for purposes of arriving at an agreement we have to come back for a discussion,” he added.
Meanwhile, the NDFP submitted their formal complaint on the alleged violation of the government’s unilateral ceasefire following the death of a guerrilla fighter in a military raid in Makilala town in North Cotabato on Saturday.
NDFP peace panel member Benito Tiamzon said the government received the complaint “for their study and action.”
Tiamzon said the incident would be a subject of both parties continuing communication.
The NDFP said the military operation, which killed an NPA fighter, was a “breach” of the unilateral ceasefire declaration by the government.
“Field reports from the NPA indicate that despite the guerrillas’ maneuvers to evade the AFP to prevent a gunbattle, the AFP troops pursued the Red fighters for an entire day in an obvious attempt to provoke fighting,” it said in a statement.
For his part, Bello said the incident underscores the need for a bilateral ceasefire agreement to define what consists a violation of a unilateral ceasefire.
Bello said they hope that the unilateral ceasefire will hold until the time that both Parties will come to a decision on the proposed bilateral ceasefire.
Tiamzon said they would study the proposed bilateral agreement of the GRP while they stressed their concerns on the provisions of the CARHRIHL, in particular, the militarization of communities, which was previously raised as a reason that is making the unilateral ceasefire untenable.
He also raised the issue of the compliance to the Hernandez doctrine to stop the filing of common charges against political prisoners.
Reds’ unilateral ceasefire still holding
The issue on the violations of unilateral ceasefire was brought up during this round of talks by the NDFP.
Tiamzon said military operations in communities using peace and development programs, the recent killing of two activists and the recent clash between government troops and NPAs in Makilala town are affecting the unilateral ceasefire order.
However, Tiamzon said the unilateral ceasefire is currently holding.
“Naghohold pa ito, pero ano, bukod sa dati nang violations, ibang level na itong naganap sa Makilala na talgang direct attack ng AFP sa NPA (It’s still holding up, but aside from the previous violations, the direct attack of the AFP against the NPA in Makilala is another level),” he said.
“Those are ominous incidents that does not bode well for the continuation of the unilateral ceasefire,” he said.
JASIG list deposit
The February meeting also coincides with the schedule of depositing the documents of identification of NDF consultants and personalities who are covered by the Joint Safety and Immunity Guarantees in a bank in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Those who are only allowed to check are the two chairmen of the panels and the archbishop who is the holder of the third key to the deposit, Archbishop Wim Ejik of Utretch, The Netherlands.
Tiamzon said the list would make sure that the personalities listed are “authentic.”
He said the list of JASIG-protected persons was reconstituted and the GRP requested to have a verification mechanism.
Bello said the list given to them included “assumed names.”
“To support those assumed names, they have to submit their real identity,” he said. Bello said there are around 70 names to be deposited.
The fourth round of talks will happen in April this year. (davaotoday.com)