Truce extension possible – Joma Sison
LUCENA CITY, Quezon, Philippines — Communist rebel leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison again said on Sunday that the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) may consider an extension of the ceasefire that ends at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday if the government releases supposed “peace consultants”captured by the government.
“It is possible if Duterte releases on humanitarian grounds the sickly and elderly political prisoners, especially the 11 NDFP consultants who have been detained in violation of [a safe conduct agreement] and on trumped charges with planted evidence,”Sison said on Facebook from Utrecht in The Netherlands. The holiday truce began at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 23 and will end at 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 7.
Sison cast doubt on the seriousness of the government in resuming the peace talks that were scuttled because of the communists’ repeated attacks on security forces during agreed truces.
But the rebel leader, who will turn 81 on Feb. 8, said at the same time that the NDFP would continue to press for provisions that have already been included in a draft Interim Peace Agreement (IPA) that was scuttled because of truce violations.
Sison noted that there has been no incident in which one side fired at the other since the government provided the NDFP with copies of its ceasefire orders to security forces.
“The few allegations of ceasefire violations have not disrupted the nationwide implementation of the reciprocal unilateral ceasefire agreement,”Sison said, adding that allegations of violations can be threshed out during negotiations.
Sison said a looming meeting to resume the peace negotiations was meant to reaffirm all previous agreements since The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 and he claimed that would supersede presidential Proclamation No. 360, terminating peace negotiations with the communist movement.
The talks, he said, would set a new agenda for the approval and signing of the IPA, which has three components: 1. the general amnesty and release of all political prisoners; 2. approval of the articles of Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (Caser); and 3. coordinated unilateral ceasefires.
Sison said that all the remaining sections of the Caser can be negotiated, completed and mutually approved by both panels in a relatively short period of time.
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