On the current ceasefire and further steps forward

By Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant

The current reciprocal ceasefire agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which was supposed to have started last December 23, 2010, will soon end on January 7, 2020.

By and large, the two parties have complied with the ceasefire agreement and allowed it to serve as a goodwill and confidence building measure for enhancing the environment for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP negotiations. 

Since last December 26 when the GRP provided the NDFP with copies of the SOMO and SOMO, there has been no incident in which one side fired at the other side. The few allegations of ceasefire violations have not disrupted the nationwide implementation of the reciprocal unilateral ceasefire agreement.

Such allegations can be threshed out by the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels and the Joint Monitoring Committee under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

It is widely expected that in connection with the ceasefire agreement, the GRP ought to release on humanitarian grounds sickly and elderly political prisoners, especially eleven NDFP consultants who were previously arrested and detained in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

The release of the aforementioned political prisoners on humanitarian grounds will ensure the success of the formal meeting to resume the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations within January. As regards to the rest of the political prisoners, they can look forward to the general amnesty that is already slated for proclamation upon the approval of the Interim Peace Agreement.

The formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations has the task of reaffirming all previous joint agreements since The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992, causing the presidential issuances terminating and preventing peace negotiations to be superseded and setting the agenda for negotiating and approving the Interim Peace Agreement (IPA).

The IPA has three components: 1. the general amnesty and release of all political prisoners; 2. approval of the articles of CASER on land reform and national industrialization; and 3. coordinated unilateral ceasefires.

I am happy about the recent press statement of Secretary Bello expressing considerateness to the general position of the NDFP and to the specific matter of political, legal and security requisites for my travels outside the Netherlands.

Indeed, it is highly desirable for me to meet President Duterte in order to accelerate the progress of the peace negotiations. I continue to agree that I meet him in a country near the Philippines after the approval and signing of the IPA; and that I return to the Philippines in connection with the mutual approval of the CASER. 

The CASER will benefit the entire Filipino people, including families of adherents to the GRP and NDFP, through land reform and the generation of jobs under the program of national industrialization. These provide the economic and social substance for a just peace. ###