PH gov’t has accepted communists’ offer to fight Maute Group
NETHERLANDS – The government has accepted the offer of the communist movement to join the fight against Maute and to observe a ceasefire during the Marawi conflict.
Government peace panel chair and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that the Philippine government welcomed the “firm commitment to join the fight against the Maute Group, the Abu Sayyaf and other terrorist groups in the Philippines.”
“We, in particular, view as a positive development the NDFP’s offer for a ceasefire agreement with the Philippine government which will spell out specific areas of cooperation and coordination in the fight against terrorism,” Bello said.
He said the government expecting the inking of a ceasefire agreement in the areas where both government and New People’s Army forces will be working together. Bello added that they also acknowledged the offer of the NDF for the issuance of unilateral ceasefire declarations that are simultaneous and reciprocal.
“We anticipate the immediate signing of the ceasefire agreement, which shall bind both parties pending the issuance of ceasefire declarations that are unilateral but simultaneous and reciprocal, subject to the
basic guidelines outlined in the CARHR-IHL and under a mechanism implemented by an interim joint ceasefire committee and its local liaison officers,” Bello said.
Bello said the Philippine government expected the bilateral teams of the national government and the NDFP to “convene the soonest time possible and discuss the terms of the ceasefire agreement under direct guidance of panelists, legal and political consultants and other personnel in the peace negotiations. ”
“Preparations of the bilateral teams may include other matters that need to be discussed by both parties,” Bello said.
The NDFP issued a position statement on Thursday after senior communist leaders met with Bello and government negotiator Angela Librado.
The NDFP was represented by CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili and Benito Tiamzon.
Agcaoili revealed that the three-hour meeting was fruitful with both parties reaching an agreement to issue separate statements with a common stand against terrorism and the commitment for the continuation
of the peace process.
He asserted that the level of counteraction against terrorism including its nature, scope and duration “must be appropriate and proportional to the degree of danger and threat and/or harm” by the groups involved in the siege in Marawi City.
“Upon the success of the counter-terrorist measure, these must cease to allow normalcy and full respect for human rights as soon as possible,” Agcaoili.
The NDFP earlier said that this could mean the redeployment of NPA fighters near Marawi and North Cotabato to directly engage terror groups.
Agcaoili has clarified that the NDFP is ready anytime to issue a nationwide unilateral ceasefire as long as it is simultaneous and reciprocal with the Philippine government’s own unilateral ceasefire.
The negotiating teams can perform the preparations for the fifth round of talks through bilateral teams while both parties are fighting the Maute and Abu Sayyaf, according to Agcaoili.
“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,” Agcaoili said. SFM
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