Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No Holy Week Truce

A truce, whether unilaterally declared or not, has never been good for anything. We always hear news of our soldiers being ambushed by rebels during a truce. The rebels spokesman will then claim that the soldiers were in their zone or whatever. Since when did rebels have a zone, or an area they claim as their own? 

 

No Holy Week truce

By BEN R. ROSARIO
April 20, 2011, 7:19pm
MANILA, Philippines -- The government appears headed to breaking tradition after failing to declare a unilateral Holy Week ceasefire with the communist insurgents as of Wednesday.
Various government administrations, including that of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s mother, the late President Corazon C. Aquino, had declared ceasefire with the New People’s Army for eight days commencing on Palm Sunday and ending on Easter Sunday.
While President Aquino acknowledged that a ceasefire would be a “good point,” he said he still has to consult with top military and police officials whether the government will declare a truce with communist insurgents and other rebel groups during the Holy Week.
The President admitted that he has not received any proposal from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the annual suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) with the rebel groups.
If the government fails to order a SOMO, it would be the second consecutive year that no ceasefire is declared.
Senior administration congressman Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara (LDP, Aurora) appealed to the Aquino government to heed the appeal for a temporary truce.
Angara said “there is enough time to enforce a truce that will stretch from Holy Thursday to at least Easter Sunday.”
“A four-day cessation of hostilities is better than none at all. It is never too early or too late to call for a halt in fighting. Hindi pa huli ang tigil putukan (Ceasefire is not yet too late.),” Angara explained.
Angara, chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education, stated that “a pause in conflict” is not a complicated matter on the part of the government.
“All the Palace or the Department of National Defense has to do is simply issue a statement saying it has ordered all its soldiers and policemen not to carry out offensive actions against the New People’s Army from Thursday to Sunday and wait for the other side to issue a similar declaration,” the lawmaker said.
He added: “If it is a unilateral declaration coming from the government then the rebels will have no other recourse but to match it with their own.”
Concerning dissemination of the ceasefire order to the NPA’s and the Armed Forces’ respective units, Angara believes that today’s information technology will ensure that news will reach all the concerned parties fast.
“Let Twitter, text messages, Facebook, 24/7 news TV and radio take care of it,” he said.
Angara added that the government peace negotiators already “know the drill” when it comes to declaring a unilateral ceasefire having declared one from Feb. 15-21 of this year, which coincided with their meeting with National Democratic Front representatives in Oslo, Norway.
Prior to that one both parties also agreed to an 18-day ceasefire which stretched from Dec. 18, 2010 to Jan. 3, 2011.
“If a ceasefire was observed just because two panels were meeting in a faraway land then all the more that one must be in place during the most solemn in this Catholic nation,” Angara said.
Meanwhile, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel negotiating with the National Democratic Front (NDF) is calling for support for the peace process with the communist group despite issues of insincerity clouding the talks.
GPH Peal Panel member Ednar Dayanghirang, during a recent forum attended by some 40 masteral students of the Masters in National Security Administration (MNSA) at the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, said it’s important for the people to continue supporting the peace talks despite issues of insincerity.
Some MNSA students raised doubts on the negotiations because of alleged sincerity issues of the NDF in completing a political settlement with the government.
Dayanghirang, however, encouraged them to trust the peace process and stated that the political climate is favorable for the peace talks, adding that negotiation with the NDF “is not just dribbling the ball.”
“We are on track,” he said referring to current progress of talks with the NDF.
Government peace panel Senior Military Adviser Brig. Gen. Reynaldo Ordoñez likewise sought support for the negotiations, saying “Maraming agam-agam sa peace process (there are many doubts on the peace process), but let’s give it a chance.”
“Let us pursue the peace process regardless of the sincerity of the other party. Dialogues open up opportunities which were not there,” continued Ordoñez.

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