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Gov't to propose ceasefire to NDF upon resumption of formal peace talks

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The Philippine government will propose to the communist National Democratic Front (NDF) a truce when formal peace talks resume next month.

Health Undersecretary Alex Padilla, who is also the head of the government peace panel in concurrent capacity, made the disclosure during an interview on NBN-4’s “Morning Show” television program Tuesday.

Prior to the resumption of peace negotiations, Padilla will hold a second round of informal dialogue with NDF chair Luis Jalandoni in Oslo, Norway on Jan. 15-17, 2011. Both had initially met in Hong Kong on Dec. 1-2, 2010.

Padilla said he will propose to the NDF a ceasefire between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), during the entire duration of the talks.

He has expressed high hopes that the resumption of formal peace talks would have tangible results to end the 42 years of insurgency warfare in the country.

Padilla said a ceasefire will be conducive while the two sides are negotiating to find a genuine and lasting solution to the long-drawn conflict.

He said there will be no precondition on the talks or a demand for the laying down of firearms but which will be eventually factored in much later at the culmination of the negotiations.

The panel will raise the issue of the use of landmine during the talks.

The NPA has been using landmines in their combat operations against government forces.

Landmine is prohibited by the United Nations (UN) because of its debilitating effect to non-combatants.

Last Dec. 16, 10 soldiers and a nine-year-old boy were killed in a landmine ambush by NPA rebels in Las Navas, Samar.

Meanwhile, Secretary Teresita Q. Deles called on the employees of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) to work relentlessly this year in pursuing peace and development for the country so “we will win the peace.”

Deles made the call during her interaction with OPAPP employees on Monday after the holiday.

“I am hoping that everyone has rested, that we come back to work with refreshed energies, fortified faith and strengthened capacity to face the challenges that surely lie ahead as we work to win the peace that our people truly deserve,” she said.

Deles also encouraged the employees to count “how many accomplishments we have achieved” and to “hit the ground running this 2011.”

She stressed that there would be significant developments on the two peace tracks that are expected to be held by the middle of this month.

“We are all working towards that, and wishing success in these endeavors,” she said, referring to the reopening of informal talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) on Jan. 15 to 17 in Norway, and the start of the implementation of the PAMANA (Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan) program.

PAMANA is the government’s flagship program that seeks to empower internally-displaced persons (IDPs) and other families living in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.

“We are hoping as 2010 ended, the whole nation will feel that we are indeed winning in advancing the peace process,” Deles added.

By Ben Cal-PNA




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