With an indefinite ceasefire now in effect between the military and rebels, Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) head Lt. Gen. Leonardo Guerrero said peace and development projects of the government in the countryside will be able to proceed much faster.
“Now that a ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front) is in effect, we expect the implementation of the government’s peace and development prrograms in the countryside to proceed much faster,” he said.
Guerrero stressed these projects will bring much needed services to remote barangays and will act as catalyst for further growth and development.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has earlier lauded the decision of the NDF for extending indefinitely its week-long ceasefire in view of the ongoing peace talks.
“The AFP have noted with elation and optimism this breakthrough in the peace negotiations,” said AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo.
The rebel ceasefire took effect 12:01 a.m. of Aug. 21 and was supposed to end 11:59 p.m. of Aug. 27.
It was declared following the release of its high-ranking leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, who were named consultants to the Oslo, Norway peacetalks scheduled Aug. 22 to 26.
During the past week, both parties agreed on six, instead of five, major contentious issues that would propel the negotiations.
Aside from the NDF’s decision for an indefinite ceasefire, the panels also re-affirmed previously signed agreements, among them The Hague Joint Declaration in 1992, Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) in 1996, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in 1998.
The Philippine government (GPH) and NDF panels also agreed to reconstitute the JASIG list, which will be on an encrypted file and will contain photos and identities of NDF consultants who are still in hiding but will be immune to arrest as the negotiations are underway.
The JASIG list will contain the names and photos of 54 NDF “publicly known” consultants and 87 guerilla leaders who are known by their “assumed names”.
Also given a thumbs up during the meeting were the revitalization of the joint monitoring committee, the submission of a recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte on the issuance of an Amnesty Proclamation, subject to concurrence with Congress, for the arrested, imprisoned and charged NDF members.
“It is a laudable move on the part of the CPP-NPA-NDF to respond positively to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of reimposition of the ceasefire ‘for as a long as necessary’ to attain lasting peace in the land,” he added.
“The AFP under the leadership of Gen. Ricardo Visaya will continue to uphold the letter and spirit of the ceasefire declaration of the Commander-in-Chief. The nation can rely on every soldier, sailor, marines and airmen to help provide an environment conducive to peace so that negotiators from both panels can work under the climate of trust and prospect of reconciliation,” Arevalo stressed. (Priam F. Nepomuceno/PNA)