Duterte wants guidelines for truce
Fresh attacks of the New People’s Army (NPA) underscore the need for the government and communist peace panels to establish clear guidelines for their ceasefire declarations, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
President Duterte asked the two peace panels to agree to “clear parameters” for observing any truce, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Tuesday.
Abella said this was necessary after NPA guerrillas torched on Monday a Davao City-bound bus in Makilala, North Cotabato province, and wounded five policemen in an ambush on the convoy of Senior Supt. Alexander Tagum, the Abra province police director.
“I think that’s exactly the reason why the President insisted that clear parameters be set so that they themselves are able to work within these parameters, which are clear,” Abella said in a press briefing when asked how the attacks would affect the peace negotiations.
He noted that “formerly there were no clear parameters,” with the NPA attacks adding “stress and burden to the talks.”
But he said the parties involved in the peace negotiations were establishing mutual trust, and there was an intent to pursue final and lasting peace through a written agreement.
Abella would leave it to the communist rebels the matter of dealing with their forces on the ground.
Both peace panels earlier agreed to reinstate their respective unilateral ceasefire declarations, which should take effect as soon as their respective ground forces have been informed.
Planned unilateral ceasefire
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza on Tuesday said he had informally raised with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines the recent NPA attacks which, he said, took place as there was still no ceasefire in place.
Dureza said the government and the rebels would announce the date of the restoration of the unilateral ceasefire once both sides had relayed to their respective ground forces the continuation of the stalled peace negotiations.
“I have informally raised…the matter of some possible eruption of incidents prior to the effectivity date (of the unilateral ceasefire). Hence, the urgency of an early effectivity announcement,” Dureza said.
He said that his experience with ceasefire negotiations showed that some factions might create “disturbances just to show defiance or merely as an attempt of projection of eminence by some of their elements.”
“Indeed, such incidents affect the over-all sentiments of peace-loving citizens who may even raise issues of good faith (on the part of rebels),” he said, adding that clashes on the ground “may lead to questions as to whether or not rebel groups we are engaging in the peace table are sincere or have control over their ground forces.”
“Public acceptance—or the lack of it—of the ongoing peace process is critical, given the indispensable need (for the) overall stakeholders’ support to ensure (the) success of our peace efforts,” said Dureza.
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