From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 6): Operations vs rebels continue despite joint interim ceasefire
While grateful for the signing of the interim joint ceasefire between the Government Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF), which can bring to halt a 48-year insurgency, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said there will be no suspension of military operations (SOMO) until a formal ceasefire declaration is made.
"We are pleased to learn that the document which shall pave the way to the ceasefire has been signed. While there is no ceasefire declaration yet, there will (also) be no corresponding suspension of military operations for the moment," said AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo on Thursday.
And while recognizing the primacy of the peace process, he said the military will continue with its focused, deliberate, and surgical combat, intelligence and civil-military operations until the ceasefire is formalized.
"We will pursue our mandate as protector of the people and the State by defeating any armed groups of any affiliation to uphold the law, maintain peace in the communities, and protect the lives of our people," Arevalo pointed out.
Meanwhile, Government chief peace negotiator and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said both parties moved fast to conclude provisions on a draft Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) meant to address the root causes of the armed conflict.
The talks primarily scheduled on April 2 was delayed for the next day after President Rodrigo Duterte alerted GRP panel and lay down four conditions.
The four conditions the Chief Executive set before the start of the 4th round of peace talks in The Netherlands were immediate release of captured police and military personnel, bilateral ceasefire agreement, the signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement; a stop to the alleged extortion activities of rebels; and the non-recognition of any territorial claim made by the communists.
" We are hopeful that the negotiators from both sides will soon be able to finalize and approve the guidelines and ground rules that will ultimately lead to the declaration of ceasefire," Arevalo said.