• ‘Bato’ urges police to help sustain ceasefire


    ALL police camps, stations and precincts have been ordered by Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, to enforce maximum-security measures in order to sustain a ceasefire between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), a police spokesman said on Monday.

    Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos told reporters in a chance interview in Camp Crame that dela Rosa also ordered police commanders to closely coordinate with their military counterparts in their areas of responsibility.

    Carlos said operations against members of the CPP-NPA have been suspended on President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to restore a ceasefire with the local armed Left that he declared last July 25, 2016.

    Before Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza left for Oslo, Norway, on Saturday for resumption of peace talks between the rebels and the government, he announced that President Rodrigo Duterte had declared an indefinite ceasefire, which took effect on Sunday.

    The CPP-NPA, in turn, also announced that it is implementing a seven-day ceasefire that will be in force for the duration of the restart of the peace negotiations in Oslo from August 22 to 26.

    The CPP, the political wing of the National Democratic Front (NDF) of the Philippines, made the announcement hours after top communist leaders Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma were freed from their detention at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame last Friday.

    The Tiamzons were detained after they were arrested by government forces in March 2014 in Cebu City on multiple-murder charges in connection with the death of hundreds of people whose remains were dug up in a mass grave in Leyte in 2007.

    Benito and Wilma are believed to be chairman and secretary general respectively of the CPP-NPA

    Mayor Herbert Bautista of Quezon City also on Monday said local government units (LGUs) can be “crucial” in making the peace process succeed, as negotiators from the Philippine government and NDF met for the first time in Oslo, Norway, to resume the talks that had hit snags under the Aquino administration.

    “The resumption of talks will eventually lead to the crucial role that local officials will play especially in the implementation of socio-economic reforms under the framework of whatever agreement is forged,” Bautista pointed out.

    The peace negotiations earlier brokered also by Norway were stalled in 2012 after the Philippine government refused to free communist leaders who had been in jail for decades.

    Bautista arrived in Oslo on Sunday as part of the Philippine government panel.

    The mayor, together with Mayor Ed Pamintuan of Angeles City (Pampanga), was named as an adviser to the Philippine panel.

    The Norwegian government on Sunday night hosted a welcome dinner for the peace negotiators on the eve of the formal resumption of the peace talks at the Scandic Holmenkollen Park Hotel in Oslo.

    Bautista, a graduate of the National Defense College of the Philippines, specialized in the role of local governments in national security.

    “Hopefully, when the discussions reach the socio-economic reform agenda, we’ll be able to thoroughly discuss how local officials would fit in the entire process,” he said.

    Karapatan, a left-leaning human rights group also on Monday welcomed the restart of the talks that it described as “an important occasion in the struggle for just and lasting peace in the Philippines.”

    The resumption should pave the way for the two parties to put on the table “substantive issues such as genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization, decent jobs and living wages,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said in a statement.

    It will also open “democratic access of the people to social services, respect for the right to self-determination of national minorities, national patrimony and an independent and nationalist foreign policy, among many others to address the root causes of the armed conflict,” Palabay added.

    Karapatan called on the Duterte administration to withdraw “trumped-up” charges against all political prisoners to facilitate the release of the more than 500 other political prisoners as an affirmation of previously signed agreements by both parties.”

    It also cited two major agreements by the government and the NDF, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law or CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees or Jasig.


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