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Ceasefire eyed in next round of peace talks

Negotiating panels of the Philippine government and the communist-led National Democratic Front are expected to exchange drafts on the proposed bilateral ceasefire and craft an amnesty proclamation as peace talks are set to resume in Oslo, Norway on Thursday.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said that they hope to come up with a ceasefire agreement that will include joint monitoring and possibly with a third-party overseer.

“The previous ceasefires were unilateral. We need to craft mechanisms to monitor violations and resolve conflicts and issues arising from them,” Dureza said.

While the unilateral ceasefires declared by both the GRP and the NDF were indefinite in nature, the presidential peace adviser said the government is eyeing a more permanent cessation of hostilities.

“These can only be done if we are able to agree on the more substantial issues of social and economic reforms. These are the more contentious issues and we expect humps and bumps during the peace negotiations,” Dureza said.

Both panels have already crafted drafts on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms, which is described as the “meat” of the peace talks.

The end of hostilities and disposition of forces – the other substantive agenda of the peace talks – hinge on the success of CASER, along with political and constitutional reforms.

Dureza, however, is confident that the inspiration provided by President Duterte will enable both parties to pull the peace process through.

“He may not be capable of elegant language, as you have noticed, but he has pure spirit and heart in wanting to have peace in the land,” Dureza said at the closing ceremony of the 2016 National Peace Consciousness Month.

GRP peace panel head and Labor Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III, meanwhile, said that a draft amnesty proclamation is already ready for submission during the second round of peace talks.

“The list has been narrowed down to just over 400 from a high of more than 500. As per agreement during the formal resumption of the peace talks in August, the proclamation will only cover NDF members currently detained,” Bello said. (PNA)