MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has lauded the decision of the National Democratic Front (NDF) to extend indefinitely its week-long ceasefire in view of its peace talks with the government.
“The AFP have noted with elation and optimism this breakthrough in the peace negotiations,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said in a message to PNA Saturday.
The rebel ceasefire took effect 12:01 a.m. of Aug. 21 and was supposed to end 11:59 p.m. of August 27.
It was declared following the release of ranking leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, who were named consultants to the Oslo, Norway peace talks on August 22-26.
During the past week, the government and NDF panels agreed on six major contentious issues that would move the negotiations forward.
They 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.
Both 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 the reimposition of the ceasefire ‘for as a long as necessary’ to attain lasting peace in the land,” Arevalo said.
“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, marine and airman 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,” he stressed.