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PH-NDF peace talks on after 1 day delay

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands – Negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front resumed here yesterday, re-opening the gates of peace previously shut in a tumultuous February that saw both sides withdrawing their respective unilateral ceasefires and President Duterte calling for an all-out war against communist rebels.

Tensions that brewed in an 18-hour postponement were visibly eased as the Fourth Round of the Formal Talks finally got underway at the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel here with both sides agreeing to make a bilateral ceasefire agreement the centerpiece of negotiations in this town facing the North Sea.

“The level of trust is now very high,” said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, who received a call from Duterte just moments before the start of the fourth round, with specific orders on how the government should tackle the matter of forging a truce with the insurgents.

According to him, the President gave a strict “guideline” that the GRP Peace Panel may only proceed with negotiations for a bilateral ceasefire as long as it will comply with Duterte’s four conditions for a truce with the Reds: The stop to the collection of revolutionary taxes, that the rebels cannot lay claim to any part of the country, the release of all prisoners being held by the New People’s Army, and a stop to all hostile acts by the insurgents.

Dureza said that while the fourth round could yield a “general guideline for a bilateral ceasefire,” “this can only be implemented once these four conditions are complied with.” (Rocky Nazareno)