Reds bare joint stand-down agreement with gov’t

DAVAO CITY — To set the record straight, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) made public on Saturday the joint stand-down agreement thatit signed with the government as proof that the peace panels were serious in resuming the talks.

The two-page document was signed by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who heads the government peace panel, and members Hernani Braganza and Angela Librado-Trinidad.

From the other side of table, the agreement was signed by NDF chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili and panel members Julieta de Lima and Asterio Palima.

The Agreement on a Stand-Down for the Resumption of the Formal Peace Talks was inked by the two parties at the end of the backchannel negotiations in Utrecht, The Netherlands on June 8.

In the document, both parties – including their armed elements such us the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and the New People’s Army – agreed to a stand-down “in consideration of the forthcoming resumption of the formal peace talks, in order to provide through goodwill and confidence-building measures, the positive atmosphere conducive to moving forward and completing the peace negotiations and the implementation of agreements entered into or may be entered into.”

“Stand-Down shall be understood to mean 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 government and NDF agreed.

Both panels also agreed to avoid any hostile acts or provocations against the other party.

They also agreed to designate a member of each peace panel to coordinate all concerns connected to the stand-down agreement.

“They shall work on measure to prevent the escalation of hostilities that may arise from certain incidents. No retaliatory act shall be taken by either Party,” the agreement said.

The stand-down agreement was originally planned to be announced a week before the resumption of the negotiations, which supposedly would be the 5th round of talks under the present administration.

On its announcement, the stand-down order will take effect immediately and will remain until replaced by a Coordinated Unilateral Ceasefire.

The NDF said that this agreement is proof that the peace panels especially from the side of the communist movement are serious in the commitment not just for the temporary silencing of guns but for the peaceful resolution of the violent conflict.

On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte decided to postpone the talks, explaining that there was need to “consult” the greater public.

The Department of National Defense also expressed doubt that the NDF would sign a stand-down agreement. /atm

Don’t miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.