The Department of National Defense (DND) said it sees nothing wrong in the stand-down agreement for the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and the communist rebels as long as both parties adhere to it.
In fact, anything that will bring about legitimate and lasting peace is welcome, DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said Wednesday.
“Yes, anything that (will help in the) pursuit of peace, walang problema (there is no problem) so long as both parties adhere to it. In the past, yan ang nagiging problema eh (that becomes the problem), like in our history, merong (there is) ceasefire but ang kabila ay hindi sumusunod (the other side is not complying with it), tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang activities nila (their activities continue), dapat pag may stand-down (If there is a stand-down), let’s really follow the rules to the letter,” he added.
Andolong was referring to the unprovoked New People’s Army attacks staged against military troops faithfully observing the ceasefire agreement.
Also, the DND spokesperson said the NPAs should also provide the government the locations of its forces as the whereabouts of the military is generally well known.
“Ang (The) Armed Forces of the Philippines, nakapuwesto sa kanya-kanyang kampo, mga (they are deployed in their camps, in) outposts, (while) the other side are roaming around, they are all over the countryside so pag sinabing (when we say) as is where is, nasaan sila talaga (Where they really are) is something that we have to work out, i-clarify natin kung ano talaga (Let’s clarify what it really is), kaya yun nga ang isang (That is one) concept in previous peace talks that you should let us know where you really are, pag dineklara nyung nandyan kayo (whenever you declare that you are there),” he added.
Based on the agreement signed by representatives of the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Utrecht, The Netherlands last June 8, the stand-down was defined as a “temporary cessation of hostilities in which the contending armed units and personnel of the Parties stay where they are (‘as is where is’), take an active defense mode, and shall not commit any offensive action or operation against combatants and civilians”.
The agreement was set to take effect on Thursday, a week ahead of the resumption of peace talks on June 28.
Last week, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza announced that the government is not yet ready to resume formal peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) set in Oslo, Norway on June 28-30 to allow the public to engage more in the peace process.
“The decision for the moment is not to resume talks yet,” Dureza said in a Palace press briefing.
He said President Rodrigo Duterte made the instruction during the joint military and police command conference last June 13 to engage the general public, as well as other stakeholders, “in our common effort to make sure that we achieve a conducive and enabling environment for peace.”
“Consequently, the initial timeline that our backchannel team had worked on with their counterparts (CPP/New People’s Army/NDFP) ‘across the table’ had to be necessarily re-adjusted,” Dureza said.
But Dureza clarified that the talks had not been canceled.
He also said Norway remained the third-party facilitator.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also stressed that Norway can continue as third party facilitator of the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Communist group.
“Norway can continue to the Philippines (peace negotiations) as a third party facilitator of the peace talks, as mentioned during this (Monday) morning’s press briefing,” Roque said in a press statement Monday. PNA