Govt, Reds nearing consensus on joint ceasefire

Danny Buenafe, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 04 2017 07:27 PM

National Democratic Front (NDF) senior adviser, Luis Jalandoni; founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines and NDF Chief Political Consultant, Jose Maria Sison; Norwegian Special Envoy, Elisabeth Slattum; Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza; chief government negotiator Silvestre H. Bello III take part in a meeting as part of the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDF organised by the Dutch government, on April 2, 2017 in the Dutch town of Noordwijk aan Zee. The meeting is part of the fourth round of talks, which have been on and off for 30 years but were restarted by President Rodrigo Duterte after he took office last June.. Sophie Mignon, AFP

The government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) will likely approve a joint ceasefire agreement by the end of the 4th round of peace talks in Amsterdam.

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili on Monday (Manila time) said they are open to President Rodrigo Duterte's earlier conditions, but insisted it will require more time, and they believe they can find solutions to address these conditions.

Duterte demanded a stop to the collection of revolutionary taxes and offensives by the New People's Army (NPA), the group's armed wing, in conflict areas. Duterte also demanded that the NPA free its prisoners.

Although a ceasefire agreement may be signed in this round of talks, it remains to be seen if it can immediately be implemented by both camps. 

Philippine government panel member Nani Braganza earlier told ABS-CBN News it's always good to have an enabling environment-- with no armed encounters--while peace talks are being held and while they are trying to resolve Duterte's four conditions.

Of the four conditions, one that seems doable is the release of at least five police and soldiers under the custody of NPA rebels.

Agcaoili said this is a settled issue and their main concern only is for the military to stand down in the areas of operations where the releases will be made to prevent armed clashes.

Government negotiating panel chair Silvestre Bello said, however, that such stand-down of the military could be misconstrued as being remiss in their duty to protect citizens in the countryside from outside forces.

The series of armed clashes recently drew Duterte's ire, and prompted him to outline the four demands in order for the peace talks to proceed.

The government panel is also ready to reciprocate with the release of more NDF prisoners, and they identified one of them, Ferdinand Castillo, who recently suffered a heart attack at a heart center.