PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE National Democratic Front should reconsider its objection to the government’s proposal for a “mutual ceasefire” between the Armed Forces and the New People’s Army as a precondition for the resumption of peace talks.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. made this appeal to the NDF adding that the government’s insistence on a truce declaration is “not a frivolous” or irrational proposal.
“And unless the NDF drops its hardline stand against it, the deadlock in the peace talks will drag on indefinitely,” he said.
“The government’s insistence on a ceasefire is a good move. It is difficult to hear one another if bullets are whizzing by the negotiators’ ears while discussing peace,” he added.
Pimentel also lauded the initiative of Sen. Jamby Madrigal to explore ways to accelerate the peace process.
“I support the efforts of Sen. Madrigal, as chairperson of the committee on peace, unification and reconciliation, to speed up the government’s peace talks with the NDF and with the Moro rebels. We need peace based on justice to spur the country’s development,” he said.
Madrigal met last week with leaders of the NDF, including members of their peace negotiating panel in Utrecht, the Netherlands and concerned Dutch lawmakers, in which they agreed “to exhaust all efforts to reach a resolution to Asia’s longest running insurgency problem until peace is achieved.”
Pimentel said the government and NDF must agree to suspend armed hostilities at least while their negotiators are holding formal talks to create an atmosphere of trust and goodwill.
He said if it is not possible to have a general ceasefire like the one forged between the AFP and Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2001, a mutual ceasefire should at least be imposed and complied with on the duration of each round of peace talks.
“Good faith is the key to any negotiation. If the parties involved talk in good faith, whether or not bullets are flying all around, the peace talks may yet become productive. The IRA (Irish Republic Army), the Irish government and the United Kingdom government multisided talks may prove instructive,” he said.
He said the government and the NDF should be more disposed to some kind of compromise or middle ground in resolving disagreements reminding them that for negotiation to succeed, both sides should give and take.