“We came here to ask them as to what the real situation is on the ground.”
Government Peace Panel member Hernani Braganza had a meeting with the officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in Eastern Mindanao as part of the consultation process while a bilateral ceasefire agreement with a rebel group is being crafted.
According to Braganza, a bilateral agreement is still needed despite the unilateral ceasefire declared by both the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines to stop violence and prevent it from delaying the peace talks.
Under the joint agreement, the mechanism of ceasefire will be made clear as well as the things to consider in case of a violation.
“Even government everyday is receiving incidents of supposedly or we think to be violations of this unilateral ceasefire. But we are not coming out in the media. We rather will not pour gasoline into the fire because we are in a critical stage of crafting a bilateral agreement,” Braganza said.
“Once the violation is defined, it’s easier to talk, both ceasefire committees, to agree whether it’s a violation or not,” he added.
Braganza says they are hoping that both parties will be able to come up with a common draft on the bilateral ceasefire which they hope will be discussed during the resumption of the peacetalks in Oslo, Norway next month.
However, according to the Eastern Mindanao Command, the New People’s Army (NPA) continuously recruits members in the eastern part of Mindanao despite the declaration of the unilateral ceasefire.
“Our troops are conducting peace and development outreach programs and these are becoming deterent to them because we were able to facilitate services and clarify issues that are being used in the recruitment of the NPA,” said EastMinCom spokesperson Major Ezra Balagtey. — Victor Cosare | UNTV News & Rescue
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