Dureza: PH to discuss ceasefire with communists
MANILA, Philippines – The implementation of a nationwide ceasefire by government and communist rebels will be part of the agenda in the meeting of both sides on the 3rd week of July in Norway, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said on Monday, July 4.
“Yes, mutual ceasefire is [part of the] agenda in the meeting,” Dureza told reporters after the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP) turnover ceremony with former secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles.
He emphasized the need for the ceasefire to be “bilateral,” adding that the government will be “committed to agreements” already set.
Dureza is no stranger to negotiating with insurgents. Prior to being Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s press secretary, he served as peace adviser from 2005 to 2008. (READ: Dureza, Bello, and the previous peace talks)
It was during his stint as chief peace negotiator in 2001 when a ceasefire agreement between the government forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was signed in Malaysia.
Is Joma coming home?
In an earlier interview with Rappler, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison said that, aside from the release of political prisoners, a mutual ceasefire has to be in place before he can come home to the Philippines.
Dureza said Sison's return – who has been living in exile in The Netherlands for 30 years already – has not been fully discussed. “Siguro sa labas nagkakabiruan, pero wala pang discussion sa formal talks (We’ve joked about it, but have not discussed this in the formal talks),” he said.
National Democratic Front spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili earlier said that Sison's return can be a “very ticklish issue” as the CPP and the New People's Army remain on the United States' list of terrorist organizations.
Together with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and former congressman Hernani Braganza, Dureza flew to Norway last month and had initial talks with Sison and NDF peace panel chair Luis Jalandoni. (READ: Duterte adviser begins talks with Joma Sison)
The Philippine government is battling Asia's longest insurgency, and has held on-again, off-again peace talks with the communist movement for 3 decades now. – Rappler.com