DAVAO CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte encouraged government troops to “be friendly” with the revolutionary forces of the Communist Party of the Philippines shortly after reissuing a ceasefire late night Wednesday, August 24 as the formal talks between the government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front continues on its third day in Oslo,Norway.
“Effective 11:35 as of today, August 24, I am declaring a ceasefire. So I’m joining the Communist Party of the Philippines in its desire to seek peace for this nation,” Duterte said in a press conference here.
Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to avoid hostile actions.
“We do not go into antagonistic behavior in front of whoever and as a matter of fact, I am encouraging people in the government, the military and the police, to be friendly with the forces of the revolutionary government of the CPP,” Duterte said.
He said he hopes the ceasefire would go for a longer period.
Duterte said his declaration of the ceasefire “is mainly based on a consensus and the concurrence of all the commanding generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the other day” with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
He also told the government troops and all security forces not to feel hurt by his decision.
“As president my main task is to seek the peace for my country. I am not the president who would enjoy waging war against the citizens of this republic,” he said.
He also said he regrets that the peace talks did not prosper before. He said that so many lives were lost for 45 years that the CPP waged an armed revolution.
“It pains me deeply to see, people dying for their ideology na pwede naman nating magpag-usapan ng mapayapa (when we can talk), just like now,” Duterte said.
“That is my regret for my mission, sana noon pa ito. Wala nang masyadong patayan, at magagamit ko pa yung pera, para sa mga mahihirap na Pilipino (That is my regret for my mission, I hope this was done a long time ago. Then we would have avoided a lot of casualties and I could have used the money to help the poor Filipinos),” Duterte said.
Third day of peace talks
On Thursday, August 24 both the government and NDF agreed on the accelerated timetable for its Reciprocal Working Committee and Reciprocal Working Groups (RWG) to work on the remaining substantive agenda of the peace talks in less than a year.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, concurrent chair of the goverment peace panel, said they were surprised that the RWC and RWGs came up with the agreements after discussing for “nine to 30 minutes.”
“We, in the government panel, were surprised that the RWC and RWGs came up with agreements in so short a time. Discussions only lasted from nine minutes to 30 minutes. It was really morale-boosting for both panels,” Bello said.
The RWC on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (Caser) agreed to complete the work within a period of six months.
NDF negotiating panel chairperson Luis Jalandoni said the Caser will be the most challenging task of both panels as issues on agrarian reform, national industrialization and foreign policy will be covered.
‘Heart and soul’ of the peace talks
Bello also described the CASER as the “heart and soul” of the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDF, pointing out that work on socioeconomic reforms would determine the outcome of the talks.
“This committee will work on the most important issue: how to address the root causes of conflict in the Philippines in order to attain just and lasting peace. The sooner CASER is wrapped up, the better for the peace negotiations,” Bello said.
He said the GRP-NDF Working Committees on CASER would hold their first meeting in October 2016 to discuss the framework and outline of the CASER, work schedule and methods of work.
The RWGs on Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR), for their part will hold their first meeting also in Oslo in October.
Meanwhile, Bello said the RWG on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces (EoH-DF) will present their draft outlines for a Comprehensive Agreement “on the substantive issue on October 24, 2016 or the next scheduled Panel meeting, whichever comes first.”
Bello said they are right on the schedule and that they expect a final peace agreement after a year.
“We expect a final peace agreement after one year so we can devote five more years of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term in implementing the reforms agreed upon by both parties,” he said.
Duterte said he hopes to lessen the war in his lifetime.
“There is always a time for everything, we cannot be at war at all times,”he said. (davaotoday.com)