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Military chief seeks ‘indefinite ceasefire’ with communists

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 10:33:00 07/24/2008

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) An “indefinite ceasefire” to restart the stalled peace negotiations with the communist rebels has been proposed by Armed Forces Chief Alexander Yano.

Yano also said that a ceasefire would “hasten” the chances of security forces being able to meet President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s 2010 deadline to defeat the communist insurgents.

Yano said he was echoing a call by his predecessor, now Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes

Esperon Jr., who had proposed a three-year ceasefire with the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

“I am echoing that initial offer by the former chief of staff and now secretary of OPAPP [for] an even longer ceasefire, indefinite suspension of hostilities, as we have done with the MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front],” Yano told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

“We cannot talk peace on the negotiating table if our warriors, our fighters are shooting each other in the frontlines,” he said.

Asked how a ceasefire would impact the President’s 2010 deadline, Yano said: “It can even be hastened or accelerated.”

“Ending the insurgency does not limit our options to just shooting or combat operations or military operations. It will even be better if we address the problem on or before 2010 without firing a shot,” he said.

Peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the CPP, have been stalled since 2004 after the rebels protested the government’s alleged inaction to have them removed from the terrorist lists of the United States and the European Union.

On Wednesday, the CPP issued a statement saying it would not enter into a ceasefire with the AFP because the government was insincere in its pursuit of peace.

“That only reflects on their sincerity. If they are sincere, and a ceasefire is offered, I think there is nothing wrong with that,” Yano said, when asked to comment on the rebels’ statement.

Asked what the military would do to convince the rebels to agree to a truce, the military chief said: “There are agencies that are doing that.”

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-07-24T04:30:39+00:00UTC07bUTCThu, 24 Jul 2008 04:30:39 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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