GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 01 September) – The City Council has passed a resolution commending the government (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) for the “historic and unprecedented” first round of formal peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway last week, as it expressed hope it would eventually bring lasting peace in the country.
It reiterated its full support to the ongoing peace process and the declaration of an indefinite ceasefire by both parties.
“We laud the efforts of both parties for declaring and committing to a unilateral ceasefire with no time limit and signing an unprecedented and historic joint statement that may pave the way for the end of the decades-long communist rebellion and thus, the realization of a lasting peace,” the resolution said.
Vice Mayor Shirlyn Banas-Nograles, who authored the resolution, said Thursday that the NDF’s ceasefire declaration, which took effect last Sunday, Aug. 28, was an important gesture for the peace process.
The Vice Mayor said the cessation of the armed hostilities will benefit civilians on the ground as well as government forces and units of the NDF’s armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
She stressed that the nearly half a century armed conflict has claimed an estimated 150,000 lives.
“(The City Council) is cognizant of the essential need to end the armed struggle of the communist rebels as this hinders the realization of a more comprehensive development in the country,” she said.
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier declared a unilateral ceasefire during his first State of the Nation Address on July 25, lifted it on July 30 when the NDF did not reciprocate it and a Cafgu personnel was killed and four others were injured. Duterte restored the effects of the unilateral ceasefire midnight of August 21, just before Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and the government peace panel left for Oslo, Norway, for the August 22 to 26 talks.
The restoration was in response to the NDF’s seven-day unilateral ceasefire that was to start at 12:01 a.m. August 21 and end at 11:59 p.m. August 27. The NDF declared its indefinite unilateral ceasefire effective August 28.
According to the Joint Statement the two parties signed at the end of the five-day Oslo talks on August 26, their ceasefire committees will “reconcile and develop their separate unilateral ceasefire orders into a single unified bilateral agreement within 60 days” from August 26.
The proposed bilateral ceasefire is a major breakthrough in the three decades of peace negotiations across six Presidential administrations — Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benigno Simeon Aquino and the President Rodrigo Duterte — as it will only be the second since 1986.
“We are very hopeful that the ongoing peace process will eventually result into a lasting peace that the current and future generations of Filipinos will experience and enjoy,” Nograles added. (MindaNews)