Gov't, Reds agree on interim ceasefire

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 5) – Negotiators from government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) on Wednesday have agreed on an interim joint ceasefire in line with the peace talks in the Netherlands.

The chairs of both panels signed a document titled Agreement on an Interim Joint Ceasefire, according to a statement from the NDFP.

The interim ceasefire will take effect once parameters have been set by both panels — and shall be effective until a permanent ceasefire is forged.

"This is another step closer to our dream, there are still many steps that we have to work on, but that is is a very important step," Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said during a press conference in Noordwijk.

Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, congratulated the panels for the progress in the talks.

"This will go a long way in building trust and confidence, and generating the atmosphere for the accelerated plans of the associations on socio-economic reforms, and political and constitutional reforms," Sison said.

The NDFP and the government also agreed on the release of prisoners: four soldiers and policemen under rebel custody, and 23 political prisoners under government custody.

Read more: Rebels willing to work on bilateral ceasefire with government

Meanwhile in a speech in Pampanga, President Rodrigo Duterte had said that he had spoken with Dureza and government panel chair Silvestre Bello III — telling them to relay to Sison he could come home to the Philippines without being arrested.

"Sabi ko [I told them], you know you tell Sison because he is sick, he’s very sick. He can come home. I’ll give him a free… freedom of movement. I will not arrest him. I’ll even pay for his facilitation kung gusto niya [if he wants]."

CNN Philippines Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.