World Bulletin / News Desk
The two sides declared indefinite unilateral ceasefires in Oslo in September as part of President Rodrigo Duterte's efforts to end a conflict that has lasted almost 50 years and killed around 40,000 people.
On Monday, presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza said in a statement that Oct. 6 talks would see negotiating panels exchange drafts on a proposed bilateral ceasefire and craft an amnesty proclamation.
"We hope to come up with a ceasefire agreement that will include joint monitoring and possibly with a third-party overseer," Dureza said.
“The previous ceasefires were unilateral. We need to craft mechanisms to monitor violations and resolve conflicts and issues arising from them."
While the ceasefires declared by both the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) -- the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) -- were indefinite in nature, Dureza said the government is eyeing a more permanent cessation.
"These can only be done if we are able to agree on the more substantial issues of social and economic reforms. These are the more contentious issues and we expect humps and bumps during the peace negotiations,” Dureza added.
Both panels have already crafted drafts on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), which is described as the "meat" of the peace talks.
The end of hostilities and disposition of forces -- the other substantive agenda of the peace talks -- hinge on the success of CASER, along with political and constitutional reforms.
Dureza added that he was confident that Duterte's efforts would inspire both parties to pull through.
“He may not be capable of elegant language, as you have noticed, but he has pure spirit and heart in wanting to have peace in the land," Dureza said.
On Monday, government peace panel head Silvestre "Bebot" Bello III said that a draft amnesty proclamation is already ready for submission during the second round of talks.
“The list has been narrowed down to just over 400 from a high of more than 500. As per agreement during the formal resumption of the peace talks in August, the proclamation will only cover NDF members currently detained,” Bello added.
He said the president, with the concurrence of Congress, could declare a general amnesty once the talks are brought to a successful conclusion.
Peace talks between the two have been on and off for around 30 years, with over 40 rounds of formal and informal talks taking place.
Negotiations, however, have been scuttled due to hard line demands from either side.
In July, Duterte ordered the release of 22 detained NDF consultants, 16 of whom later joined the initial Aug. 22-28 Oslo talks, to fulfill a campaign promise and jumpstart negotiations.
He also declared a unilateral ceasefire, only to later lift it after communist rebels ambushed an army patrol, and then reinstate it on the eve of the Oslo talks, which the NDF reciprocated with an indefinite and unilateral ceasefire of its own.
The CPP, NDF and New People’s Army -- the armed wing of the CPP -- have waged one of the longest insurgencies in Asia in an effort for agrarian reform, national industrialization and an independent foreign policy.