Resumption of 5th round of GRP-NDF talks seen in 2-3 months

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 June) – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is looking at the possibility resuming the stalled fifth round of peace talks between the government (GRP) and National Democratic Front (NDF) either in August or September 2017.

Last weekend, both parties agreed, in order “to encourage the continuation of peace talks, to refrain from undertaking offensives against their respective forces in Mindanao to allow government troops to fight the Maute Group in the embattled Marawi City.

But in a statement Wednesday, the CPP has reiterated its demand to President Rodrigo R. Duterte to lift the all-out war policy he issued in February 2017 and the martial law in Mindanao that was declared on May 23.

The CPP said it “anticipates the fifth round of peace negotiations to resume in around two or three months” giving the reciprocal groups and committees of both panels sufficient time to thresh out the draft agreements on social and economics reforms and constitutional reforms.

It said the communists acknowledged the statement of GRP negotiating panel chair Silvestre Bello III on June 17, reiterating the commitment of the government to proceed with the peace talks.

“The commitment of the GRP expressed therein to proceed with peace negotiations with the NDFP is a welcome development and is well appreciated by the revolutionary forces,” the CPP said.

The NDFP announced it is recommending to the CPP to order the New People’s Army (NPA) to abstain from carrying out offensives against the government forces last Saturday, which was immediately reciprocated by the GRP.

“Action on the NDFP recommendation can be undertaken once conditions for it exist concretely,” it said.

Bello said both parties’ declaration to abstain from engaging their respective forces would “pave way for the eventual signing of a mutually agreed bilateral ceasefire agreement and agreements on social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces towards a just and lasting peace.”

The CPP also acknowledged the GRP’s adherence to all previously signed agreements, most especially to the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), in which the communists said is “a critical element in peace talks which enables NDFP negotiators and personnel to freely travel and participate in talks without threat of arrest or reprisal.”

It reiterated that the NDFP stands firmly against “terrorism and terrorist acts which intimidate, terrorize, harm and murder civilians solely or mainly.”

The NDFP has even offered help to the government in fighting the terrorists.

During the Mindanao Hour on June 8, 2017 in Davao City, Abella said potential cooperation is unlikely if the communists continue to insist on the President to lift martial law and all-out war policy.

“To show that the CPP-NPA-NDF is truly in pursuit of peaceful coexistence, they must stand against a common enemy without conditions… The Duterte administration would rather pursue that path of genuine dialogue to build the nation worthy of its citizens,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)