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Despite lifting of ceasefire, peace talks should continue — Zarate

July 31, 2016 By

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate described the lifting of the government’s unilateral ceasefire as unfortunate but he stressed that the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines should continue.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the lifting of the ceasefire he declared following the ambush by New People’s Army rebels in Kapalong, Davao del Norte. The ambush resulted in the death of a militia and the wounding of several others.

In a statement, Duterte ordered “all security forces to be on high alert and continue to discharge their normal functions and mandate to neutralize all threats to national security, protect the citizenry, enforce the laws and maintain peace in the land.”

But Zarate said this development should not affect the resumption of the peace talks.

“We hope that, despite this development, the scheduled formal resumption of talks on August 20 will still push through, wherein among the agenda set in their June 15 joint statement is the matter of ceasefire declaration by the two parties,” said Rep. Zarate.

Members of both government and the NDFP peace panels met in Oslo, Norway for informal talks last June 14. The negotiators are set to meet again next month. Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said the negotiations will resume despite the Duterte’s lifting of the peace talks.

“We are calling on the administration of President Duterte and the leadership of the NDFP, as well as their respective panels, to continue to find all and every possible ways and means for the talks to proceed, for the greater interest of a just and lasting peace that our country and people have long awaited for,” said Zarate.

“We also call on the peace advocates — the Bishops and religious, the members of the academe and other people of goodwill — to also exert efforts to push the parties to continue with the peace talks and to reach a just political agreement that will address the root causes of the armed conflict,” he added.