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Jakarta Post

Philippine rebels agree to indefinite cease-fire

  • David Keyton

    Associated Press

Oslo   /   Fri, August 26, 2016   /  05:56 pm
Philippine rebels agree to indefinite cease-fire Supporters take a groupie with released communist rebel leaders, Renante Gamara (left) Benito Tiamzon (second from left front row) and Wilma Tiamzon (second from right) prior to their departure for Oslo, Norway for peace talks with the Government Aug. 20, 2016 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. (AP/Bullit Marquez)

Philippine communist rebels announced an indefinite cease-fire Friday in peace talks aimed at ending one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies.

The Maoist rebels announced their agreement to put down their arms in a joint statement with Philippine government officials at the end of weeklong talks in Norway.

The government announced its own cease-fire earlier.

Some 150,000 people have died in the conflict that began almost half a century ago.

Both sides said they had made important progress in the talks in Oslo in advancing a peace process that has dragged on for decades.

"The joint statement we are signing manifests the historic significance of what we have achieved," said Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Philippines Communist Party.

Philippines presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza called the statement a "historic and unprecedented event" and gave credit to President Rodrigo Duterte.

In the statement, the two sides reaffirmed previous agreements and agreed to discuss the release of detainees and who should get immunity to take part in the talks. Negotiators said they aim to complete the peace talks in nine to 12 months.

Although less numerous and less violent than Muslim separatist rebels in the country's south, the Maoists have fought and outlived successive Philippine administrations for nearly 50 years, holding out against constant military and police offensives. They draw support from those dissatisfied with economic inequality, especially in the countryside, and the Philippines' alliance with the US.

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