Philippines, Communist Rebels Move Closer to Cease-Fire Accord

The Philippines government and Maoist rebels in the south of the country are closer to reaching a peace accord after both parties signed guidelines for a joint monitoring committee, according to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the government’s chief negotiator in the talks.

This “bodes well for the possible signing of the bilateral cease-fire," said an e-mailed government statement citing Bello. The agreement was reached in Rome on Jan. 21 with Fidel Agcaoili, Bello’s counterpart for the National Democratic Front, the statement said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has pledged to revive peace talks to end one of Asia’s longest-running Maoist insurgencies as he seeks to attract investment and boost the nation’s economy. He’s also seeking to end a rebellion by Muslim separatists in the southern island of Mindanao, where violence has hampered development in a region that holds half of the Philippines’ mineral reserves.