After the President called off talks over a month ago, the government decided to resume arrangements with the communist rebels yesterday in Norway.
However, at this point, there is no standing ceasefire in effect which means that both parties are still standing their ground in case of attacks from one another (or each other).
In a statement by Armed Forces (AFP) Chief Gen. Eduardo Año, the government could not yet announce a unilateral ceasefire because the New People’s Army (NPA) had taken advantage of the truce in the past to extort funds from businesses and civilians.
Año also urged the public to be vigilant and report extortion activities being done by the rebels. The military had reported that since the President canceled the talks in February, there are more than 60 cases of arson related to extortion.
The President himself expressed the need to end the conflict, however, he said that there are certain conditions required in order to further proceed with the peace process. Among these are the following: a creation of a bilateral ceasefire agreement, stopping the burning of equipment and canceling the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax, stopping the claiming of territories and the release of captives.
AFP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. agreed with the President as the AFP called for a joint ceasefire with the communist rebels, saying that it is the most practical approach to stop the armed clash between the two parties. Padilla said that enforcing a bilateral ceasefire will enforce third-party implementers which can further ensure the compliance of both parties to the truce.
For National Democratic Front Chief Negotiator Fidel Agcaoili, he said that the NDFP is “willing to be flexible” during talks for a truce and that they are open to work on enforcing a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the government.
In a separate statement, the CPP-NPA said that it is expecting intensified operations by the military amid the talks.
Since its formation in 1968, the conflict between the Communist Party of the Philippines and the government had killed more than 40,000 people. Currently, the National People’s Army operates as its armed forces while the National Democratic Front of the Philippines is its political arm currently in charge of discussing terms and agreements with the government in order to possibly end the 49-year old conflict.