Castelo lauds gov’t move to resume peace talks with the left

MANILA, March 31 (PNA) — Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo on Monday praised the determination and willingness of the Aquino administration to resume negotiations for a political settlement with the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) even on informal level this May.

However, he said a ceasefire of hostilities would be necessary to build up confidence and mutual trust between the two parties.

“The May informal talks could lead the peace panel representing the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to talk for a declaration of a bilateral cessation of hostilities with the NDF counterpart as a starting point of any resumption of formal negotiations for a political settlement,” Castelo said in a statement.

“A ceasefire accord would go a long way to create that atmosphere of trust and confidence, as the two parties sit down again and seek a political settlement for the insurgency issue that has been nagging the country for almost five decades,” Castelo added.

The veteran lawmaker made the statement even as Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. earlier floated the possibility of holding informal talks in May before the two parties go for the nitty-gritty of resumed formal negotiations.

The NDF has yet to respond to overtures of a resumed peace talks even on informal levels, which Coloma did not define in his statement.

Except for the traditional nationwide ceasefires, which the two parties called and respected during Christmas holidays, or limited ceasefires which they also called and respected in calamity-stricken areas, the two parties have not called for any prolonged ceasefire since the failed 1986 peace negotiations, which then President Corazon Aquino initiated shortly after the downfall of the Marcos martial law regime, Castelo noted. (PNA)