Rebels agree to 7-day truce
THE Philippine government and communist guerillas have agreed to ceasefires, which started yesterday, ahead of crucial peace talks this week to end one of Asia’s longest insurgencies.
Both sides said a break from the fighting will create a conducive environment at the negotiations this week in Norway, which are aimed at reaching a political settlement after 30 years of failed talks.
The Communist Party of the Philippines declared a seven-day unilateral truce hours after President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to free its top jailed leaders on August 19.
The government responded by saying it will restore a unilateral ceasefire that was declared in July but abruptly withdrawn by Mr Duterte just days later after a rebel ambush.
“The ... ceasefire will last for as long as necessary to bring peace to the land and also to provide an enabling environment for the success of the peace negotiations,” Mr Duterte’s peace adviser Jesus Dureza told reporters.
Mr Dureza and at least six of the freed rebels flew to Oslo on August 20 for the talks that kick off today.
The government estimates the 47-year-old rebellion has claimed 30,000 lives and impoverished swathes of the Southeast Asian nation whose economy is improving.
The talks, which Norway has acted as an intermediary for, broke down in 2013 after Mr Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino rejected the communists’ demand to free all imprisoned guerillas.
Mr Dureza said the government expects to reach an “interim negotiated ceasefire” as soon as possible to put in place mechanisms to avoid renewed conflict.
The communists have said their own ceasefire would only last until August 27.
However, this would only be possible after the government freed “all political prisoners”, it said, referring to 550 guerillas detained by the government. –