Gov't, NDF begin first panel-to-panel meeting
OSLO, Norway – The government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) started their formal meeting in Oslo Tuesday morning, August 23, a day after the opening ceremony. (READ: Warriors, negotiators: Optimism on Day 1 of Oslo talks)
But what should they talk about while the media were still present and the talks could not begin yet? The government panel members told their counterparts about the mouth-watering "sinigang," a Filipino sour soup, that the Filipino community in Oslo brought to their office.
The doors were closed to the media at 9 am (3 pm Tuesday in Manila) as both camps are expected discuss the following:
- Affirmation of previously-signed agreements;
- Accelerated process for negotiations, including the timeline for the completion of the remaining substantive agenda for the talks; socio-economic reforms; political and economic reforms; and end of hostilities and disposition of forces; and
- Reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) list.
They are expected to reaffirm The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992, Breukelen Joint Statement of 1994, the JASIG, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
Both sides agreed to hold simultaneous panels and committee level meetings to fast-track the process that the government aims to complete within 12 months.
"We have learned our lessons from past experiences. Both parties have resumed the stalled peace negotiations and are now committed to explore all avenues possible to fast-track the process," said government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III.
The government panel is composed of experienced negotiators Bello, former Agrarian Reform Secretary Hernani Braganza, former Commission on Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, and lawyers Angela Librado-Trinidad and Antonio Arellano.
The NDF panel is led by its chairman Luis Jalandoni. The members are Fidel Agcaoili, Connie Ledesma, Asterio Palima, and Juliet de Lima-Sison.
Both presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza and Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison were also in the first panel-to-panel meeting.
After the panel meeting, negotiators will supervise different committees discussing the substantive issues. Braganza will supervise discussions on the Reciprocal Working Committee on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).
Sarmiento will supervise discussions on the Reciprocal Working Groups on Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR).
Arellano and Librado will supervise discussions on the End of Hostilities-Disposition of Forces (EOH-DOF). – Rappler.com
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