MANILA, Philippines — Communist negotiators urged the government on Thursday to resume the formal talks in The Netherlands.
In a statement Thursday night, June 1, the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said they want to resume the talks “as soon as possible.”
“The GRP and NDFP must act in consonance with the Filipino people’s clamor for peace negotiations and their demand for social, economic and political reforms to address the roots of the armed conflict and lay the basis for a just and lasting peace,” the NDFP said.
It added that the Parties should unite to fight terrorism.
“We must condemn and must be resolved and determined to counteract the Maute group and Abu Sayaff which are wreaking havoc in Marawi City. These are terrorist groups linked to local reactionary forces, affiliated with ISIS and supported by US-CIA and other foreign entities,” it said.
A joint statement expressing unity in combating terrorist groups in Mindanao was supposedly signed by the Parties until the government maintained its position that it will not participate in the fifth round of talks due to the lack of enabling environment. The government cited as one reason for cancelling the latest round of talks the order from the Communist Party of the Philippines to intensify the attacks following the Martial Law in Mindanao.
The NDFP has issued its recommendation to the CPP. However, while the Parties were waiting for the CPP’s reply, the government negotiators called for a press conference on Sunday evening in Noordwijk Aan Zee in the Netherlands, reiterating their stand.
On Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a warning against CPP leaders that he will rearrest them upon their return to the Philippines.
But both Panels expressed willingness to continue the peace negotiations despite the setback.
GRP peace panel member Hernani Braganza told Davao Today that only the 5th round was cancelled.
“Hopefully, we can continue bilateral meetings which is normally done by both Parties in between the formal round in the Philippines,” he said.
Some officials of the GRP peace panel also had informal talks with the NDFP on Thursday. NDFP peace panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili told Davao Today that they were able to talk to Sec. Bello. Agcaoili, however, refused to give details of the talks.
Meanwhile, the NDFP statement said a unilateral ceasefire can be declared.
“In specific areas of cooperation and coordination, the armed forces of the GRP and NDFP shall be bound by a ceasefire agreement between them, pending the issuance of ceasefire declarations that are unilateral but simultaneous and reciprocal,” it said.
The NDFP added: “The level of counteraction against terrorism, as well as the nature, scope and duration must be appropriate and proportional to the degree of danger and threat and/or harm by the terrorist group concerned in Marawi City.”
Meanwhile, Agcaoili said the Parties can continue to prepare for the fifth round of formal talks with the meeting of bilateral teams.
“In this connection, all panelists, legal and political consultants and other personnel in the peace negotiations must be allowed to return to the Philippines and subsequently attend the fifth round of formal talks,” he said.(davaotoday.com)