Press Release
March 22, 2007

Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday stilling of the guns proposed

Sen. Ralph Recto has called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the New People's Army (NPA) to declare a ceasefire during Holy Week in spite of the arrest of Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, a former negotiator of the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Recto said the process of stilling the guns of conflict during the solemn week should not be impeded by the detention of Ocampo, whom he said could be eventually exonerated if the truth is on his side.

To set the truce in motion, Recto said either the government or the NDF can declare a unilateral ceasefire which can be matched by a similar declaration by the other party.

It doesnt matter who will declare first. The important thing is that any ceasefire call will be met by a similar call, Recto said.

If possible let us have the truce from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, he said.

The senator stressed that combatants of both parties could use the respite in battle to reflect on their careers in the profession of arms and think about the future of the nation.

Lent is a time for praying not fighting, Recto said.

Recto also urged the government and the NDF to use the lull in fighting to start the process of resuming the negotiations, which were suspended in 2003.

"I ask that the NDF and the government panels resume discussions even at an informal level to leave the door open for the serious talks later on," Recto said.

Recto stressed that a lull in fighting would allow all parties to think deeply about the country's future and recognize the suffering of our people who have to bear the cost of prolonged hostilities.

Recto said such a truce would compel both parties to the negotiations to iron out their differences and tackle the impediments that had caused the suspension of talks.

He noted that both the Norwegian and Dutch governments extended their assistance in ensuring that the talks would proceed smoothly and he is asking both governments to exercise their good offices to make the two panels to meet anew.

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