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Philippine rebels agree to indefinite cease-fire

  • BERIT ROALD / NTB SCANPIX

    A representative of the Philippine government, Jesus Dureza, 2nd left, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Boerge Brende , centre, and a representative of the communist movement the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Luis Jalandoni, 2nd right, during the meeting for the signing of a joint declaration in which both parties undertake unilateral ceasefires without time constraints.

OSLO, Norway » Philippine communist rebels on Friday agreed to an indefinite cease-fire in peace talks with government officials aimed at ending one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.

After a weeklong meeting in Norway, negotiators for the Maoist rebels and the government issued a joint statement pledging to accelerate the peace process for a conflict that has killed tens of thousands since the late 1960s.

The rebels said they would extend indefinitely a unilateral cease-fire that was set to end on Saturday, a move that came in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s cease-fire which took effect on Aug. 21.

“The joint statement we are signing manifests the historic significance of what we have achieved,” said Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Philippines Communist Party.

Philippines presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza called the statement a “historic and unprecedented event” and gave credit to President Duterte.

In the statement, the two sides reaffirmed previous agreements and agreed to discuss the release of detainees and who should get immunity to take part in the talks. Negotiators said they aim to complete the peace talks in nine to 12 months.

Although less numerous and less violent than Muslim separatist rebels in the country’s south, the Maoists have fought and outlived successive Philippine administrations for nearly 50 years, holding out against constant military and police offensives. They draw support from those dissatisfied with economic inequality, especially in the countryside, and the Philippines’ alliance with the U.S. The conflict has left an estimated 40,000 people dead.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende, who facilitated the talks, said all involved had to make sure that a potential peace agreement help people in poor, rural areas improve their lives.

“It’s a unique opportunity and we all have to contribute,” he said.

Negotiators agreed to meet again on Oct. 8-12 in Oslo.

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  • I’ve got to wonder if the rebels all of sudden sped up their agreeing to the truce because Duterte had already started a campaign to wipe them out with no mercy? I personally disagree with his ruthlessness towards others, despite his actions to quickly rid Philippine society of lowlifes, he is teetering on the edge of becoming a dictator and could eventually start retaliating against his political opponents and anyone who stands in his way, a very fine line, if crossed. He is also running the risk of alienating the US with his rhetoric and cozying up to China, thus losing all foreign aid and military support from America. China must be “licking their chops” and the great dragon will likely burn Duterte’s “ubutt” some day when he least expects it!

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