By Anton Lutter.
With the reestablishing of the Government of the Republic of The Philippines Negotiating Panel (GRP) president Rodrigo Duterte is set on peace as he always has done, in the long lasting conflict with the NDFP/NPA. As a sign of goodwill Duterte ordered a nationwide ceasefire from 23 December until 7 January 2020. Shortly after the president also announced the ending of the martial law in Southern Philippines imposed in 2017 in response to a rebellion by Islamic State militants in the city of Marawi.
To put the ceasefire in effect Duterte also ordered the Department of National Defense, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police “to issue an official declaration” to all armed units and agents for them to observe the truce, according to presidential spokesman Salvador Panela.
In a joint statement signed in Utrecht (The Netherlands) by the GRP representatives Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Hernani Braganza, and National Democratic Front of The Philippines (NDFP) represented by Luis G. Jalandoni, senior adviser NDFP negotiating panel and Fidel V. Agacaoili, chairman NDFP negotiating panel, both parties mention that “the ceasefires are intended to generate a positive environment conducive to be holding of informal talks preparatory to the formal meeting to resume peace negotiations”.
However in a interview with ABS-CBN senior consultant of the NDFP Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, who lives in The Netherlands, came up with several preconditions before the peace process could even start.
President Duterte who remains highly popular among the Philippines people, invited Joma Sison to a man-to-man talk in Manila, giving his guaranty he will not be arrested. This while the NPA (the armed wing of the NDFP) reportedly staged two separate attacks in Camarines Sur and Iloilo just hours after the holiday truce took effect, resulting in the death of a soldier.
The president’s is set on everlasting peace by again offering negotiations after ending the peacetalks in march 2019 following its collapse.