By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) panel welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement ordering the unilateral ceasefire of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in relation to the New People’s Army (NPA).
In a statement sent to Bulatlat, Luis Jalandoni, chairperson of the NDFP negotiating panel, said that the NDFP would be able to respond to or reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire declaration soon after receiving its full text.
In his first state of the nation address, Duterte said he wanted a “permanent and lasting peace” before the end of his six-year term, which commenced on June 30. Addressing the NPA, he said, “Let us end these decades of ambuscades and skirmishes. We are going nowhere and it is getting bloodier by the day.”
Jalandoni affirmed that the NDFP shared with President Duterte the determination to work for a just and lasting peace.
The NDFP chief negotiator said he is looking forward to the resumption of formal talks in Oslo on August 20-27 when the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels would at the latest exchange ceasefire declarations in order to discuss and agree further on how to make them effective.
Jalandoni further said he assumed that GRP ceasefire declaration is necessarily connected with the release of all current political prisoners under the amnesty proclamation to be issued by the President Duterte and concurred in by a majority of Congress, as referred to by the Oslo Joint Statement of June 15, 2016.
During the informal talks between then incoming GRP panel and NDFP in June, both parties agreed to work for amnesty declaration for the release of all political prisoners, subject to concurrence by Congress.
The incoming GPH panel pledged to recommend to Duterte the immediate release of all detained NDFP consultants and other Jasig-protected individuals to enable them to participate in the peace negotiations and the immediate release of other political prisoners based on humanitarian grounds.
There are 18 NDFP consultants detained in different jails all over the country.
According to human rights alliance Karapatan, there are 82 political prisoners suffering from various ailments.