Defense chief doubts planned stand down deal with Reds

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 07 2018 01:57 PM

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza gestures during a speech in Caloocan City. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza on Thursday sought clarification in the proposed stand down agreement, warning Maoist rebels were working to regain control of villages previously recovered by the military.

The government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are set to simultaneously announce such a deal on June 14 to pave the way for the resumption of formal peace talks 2 weeks later.

"Kung magkakaroon, eh di mabuti (If there will be one, then good),” Lorenzana told reporters in Makati City, warned said the rebels should also stop their “build-up” of forces in the meantime.

"Because we heard that they have some orders to their people to continue recruiting, tapos babawiin nila yung mga nawala nilang barangay. Hindi naman nila sinasabing stand down dun.”

(Because we heard that they have some orders to their people to continue recruiting, then they will recover lost barangays. They don't consider that as a stand down.)

The proposed agreement, a copy of which was obtained by ABS-CBN News, calls on the the 2 sides to "stay where they are" and "not commit any offensive action or operation against combatants and civilians."

Negotiators hope to turn the arrangement into a coordinated unilateral ceasefire, which would form part of an interim peace agreement to be signed on June 28.

The proposed preliminary peace accord would also include an amnesty proclamation for political prisoners, and initial agreements on agrarian reform and the nationalization of certain industries.

Lorenzana recalled that a previous ceasefire arrangement allowed the rebels to take control of villages.

"Nadale na kami nung minsan nyan," he said. "Yung mga nakuha namin, nabawi nila. So lets see ano ibig sabihin nila ng stand down. Baka kami lang mag stand down, sila hindi."

(We fell for that before. They took back what we got from them. So let's see what they mean by stand down. We could be the only ones standing down and not them.)