CLOSE to a month after the government and the communists reopened peace negotiations, the unilateral ceasefires declared by both parties appear to be holding with no reports of major clashes and incidents.
Government chief negotiator and Labor Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III said he is optimistic a bilateral agreement will be reached and put in place when the second round of peace negotiations is resumed on October 4-10, also in Oslo, Norway.
“It is indicative of the sincerity of both parties in the (peace) process which augurs well for peace,” Bello said.
President Rodrigo Duterte restored a unilateral and indefinite ceasefire on the eve of the formal resumption of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) on August 21 to create a favorable condition for the negotiations.
The NDF in return extended its 7-day goodwill ceasefire (August 21-27) to also declare its own unilateral and indefinite ceasefire when the first round of talks in Oslo ended on August 26.
The indefinite unilateral ceasefire from the NPA is considered “historic and unprecedented.”
The NPA said it is inspired by the release of the 22 detained NDF consultants, the most number of prisoners released by the government to date.
In the 30-year history of government peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF, the talks have been disrupted at least 15 times.
The breakdown in the talks was mainly due to two issues: the release of detained NDF consultants and declaration of ceasefire.
With both issues addressed, the formal resumption of peace talks on August 22-28 in Oslo was made possible. Ceasefire was one of agenda items taken up by both panels during the Oslo talks.
Both parties agreed to submit drafts for the formal bilateral ceasefire agreement when the negotiations resume in the first week of October.