With the signing of the mechanics for the holding of peace talks in July, the government and communist rebels may declare a ceasefire before President-elect Rodrigo Duterte delivers his first State of the Nation Address (SONA).
In a news conference in Davao City on Tuesday, government negotiator Silvestre Bello 3rd said the Duterte administration and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) will declare a “unilateral ceasefire” once the formal peace talks between the two parties begin.
“[We] agreed that after the formal resumption of the talks, both parties will declare a unilateral ceasefire,” Bello told reporters.
“As a result of this preparation, there will be a creation of a ceasefire committee to monitor the implementation,” he said.
The NPA traditionally declares a ceasefire during the Christmas holidays, or limited cessation of hostilities during negotiations for the release of their captives.
Bello said the formal talks will probably start on the third week of July, a week before Duterte’s first SONA.
He added that results of the exploratory talks in Norway this month with the National Democratic Front, the political wing of the CPP, were “very positive.”
“The time we spent there was quality time [because]we achieved what we wanted to achieve when we went there and that was to convince them to return to the peace table,” Bello explained.
He, incoming presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza and former Agrarian Reform secretary Hernani Braganza met with the CPP-NDF leaders to reopen peace talks.
Both parties agreed to finish the talks within the first year of the Duterte administration.