Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Peace pact struck with NPA breakaway group

Hostilities between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Mindanao (RPMM) panels as they sign on December 19 the guidelines and ground rules for the implementation and monitoring of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities. GRP Panel chairman lawyer Franklin Quijano shaking hands with RPM-M panel member Armando Orbis as independent secretariat head Kaloy Manlupig of Balay Mindanao looks on. Photo by DANTE SUDARIA

Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Mangagawa ng Mindanao (RPM-M) Peace panel Members Armando Orbis, Freiderick Montes and RPM-M panel adviser Ike de Los Reyes signing on Tuesday the agreement with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) on the cessation of hostilities in Mindanao at Pryce Plaza hotel, Cagayan de Oro City.

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (Ben Balce / Dec 20) – An agreement for a cessation of hostilities between government and a breakaway group of the New People's Army (NPA) here in Mindanao was signed at the Pryce Plaza here Tuesday, paving the way for the resumption of peace talks.

Signing the agreement, which was the third round formal talks, were government Peace Panel chairman Franklin Quijano, and RPMM Peace Panel Moniva Pascual. Other signatories were GRP Peace Panel member Froilan Melendrez, RPMM Peace Panel members Freiderick Montes, Armando Orbis, and RPMM political consultant Enrique delos Reyes.
The GRP and RPMM panels agreed on the following:

To commit the GRP and RPMM to the guidelines and ground rules operationalizes the implementation of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities that previously signed on Oct. 28, 2005.

To create of monitoring and coordinating committees, both at national and local levels, and mutual adoption of rules to handle issues relating to hostilities.

Also the RPMM signed with the government peace panel and independent secretariat Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. the "Joint Resolution to Further Advance the Gains of the government-RPMM Peace Process", in order to provides directions in terms of safety protocols and environment threats.

The third party, Independent Secretariat Charlito Manlupig and Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. executive director Ariel Hernandez also signed the agreement.

“These peace efforts exerted by the government with the RPMM shows how the current administration is trying to reach out to all groups in its pursuit of peace, Quijano said adding the focus of the talks is purely on development and not on violence.

Quijano said they both (GRP, RPMM) hoping that with the new development would contribute to address the inequity, underdevelopment and poverty in areas in Mindanao.

Pascual on his part said the strong convictions that the political crisis the country is going through will not be a hindrance or discouragement to their efforts to find peace in Mindanao. Manlupig said RPMM submitted a list of 104 barangays that need consultation and immediate intervention. ”Already 93 barangays have been attended to by the panels and the development are still ongoing,” Manlupig said.
The former NPA members dubbed as the "rejectionist group" also voiced their commitment to pursue attaining peace in Mindanao.

Manlupig said there are 93 of the 104 barangays have been consulted and rendered "immediate intervention" by the government-Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Mindanao (RPMM) Peace Panels. In an interview, Lanao del Norte police provincial director PSSupt. Laut Sarip said the current political crisis that presently encounter by the State is not a bar to the pursuit of peace. Laut who represented Police Regional Office 10 regional director Chief Supt.. Teodorico Capuyan said the signing would benefits not only both parties but the civilian communities in Mindanao.

Both the GRP and the RPMM also regarded the signing of the two documents as an important gesture in support of the fulfillment of confidence-building measures and in the eventual signing of final peace accord.

The parties also jointly acknowledged the threat to the environment caused by illegal logging operations in Upi, Shariff Kabunsuan and some other areas in Mindanao.
The panels also agreed to follow and enforce environmental protection laws such as the Indigenous People's Reform Act (IPRA) and other customary laws and implement sustainable environment programs. The GRP and the RPMM panels also specifically lauded the Independent Secretariat who witnessed and signed the above guidelines and ground rules.
Pascual said that “pursuing peace is more of paramount importance today and onward” and that the signing is “another significant milestone forward for the peace process.”

Quijano lauded the talks as “a much welcome development in arriving at a just conclusion to this peace process.”

“It must be noted that the “just end to all peace process” or the completion of comprehensive peace agreements with the rebel groups resulting in the permanent cessation of armed hostilities by 2010, is a major component of the President 10-point Agenda,” said Quijano.


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