Gov't declares 18-day holiday truce with CPP
Manila (4 December) -- The government has declared a holiday ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) from Dec. 16, 2010 to Jan. 3, 2011, as prelude to the resumption of the talks in February of next year.
Chief government negotiator Alexander Padilla announced that the 18-day suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) with the communist insurgents would be the longest ceasefire period approved in the last decade.
President Aquino, following consultations with the Cabinet security cluster, approved the holiday truce and the subsequent resumption of the peace talks with the communist rebels.
In a press briefing conducted at the Palace on December 3, Chief Negotiator Padilla said that a Christmas suspension of offensive military operations will be observed from December 16, traditionally the beginning of'Simbang Gabi' or'Misa de Gallo' during this Christmas season, up to and until midnight of January 3, 2011 or a total duration of 18 full days, the longest period agreed upon in the last 10 years. Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said she hopes both parties would participate in the ceasefire and monitor any violations.
Mr. Padilla, who arrived on December 3 from a two-day informal meeting with National Democratic Front (NDF) chairman Luis Jalandoni in Hong Kong, also disclosed that the government peace panel would hold another round of informal talks tentatively set in the second week of January.
According to the Chief Negotiator, the formal talks between the government and the communist group would then be held around the third week of February 2011.
"When that happens, this would again be the first of such talks after having been suspended in August of 2005," Chief Negotiator Padilla said.
The Chief Negotiator said the government also appreciates the support of the Royal Norwegian Government to host the peace talks in Oslo, Norway early next year. Norway is the third party facilitator of the GRP-NDF (Government of the Republic of the Philippines-National Democratic Front) talks.
Another confidence-building measure of the Aquino government is the implementation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) to facilitate a favorable atmosphere for the looming peace talks.
A copy of an Order emanating from the Department of Justice lifting the'hold departure order' on the person of Mr. Jalandoni was likewise presented and with the verbal assurance for his safety, he may now enter the country in whatever capacity whenever he so desires, the Chief Negotiator said. Jalandoni is expected to visit Manila on Saturday, he added.
Upon the instruction of the President, the government shall aggressively pursue the path to peace towards a just and honorable settlement of conflicts. The chief Negotiator said, knowing the dividends that peace brings to the country and its people, the panel shall remain focused in this direction. (PIA 8) [top]