MANILA, Philippines – Negotiators of the government and the communist National Democratic Front (NDF) will return to The Netherlands for the 5th round of talks scheduled from May 27 to June 1.
The Norwegian Embassy in the Philippines made the announcement on Tuesday, May 16. Norway has been the 3rd party facilitator of the talks since 2001.
“The Philippine Government and the NDFP are determined to continue the peace process. There have been several meetings between the parties here in Manila during the past weeks, and we hope it will be possible to take the process even further when the parties meet again for another formal round of talks,” said Norwegian Ambassador Erik Førner.
The 5th round of talks was announced a week after communist leaders Benito Tiamzon and wife Wilma – NDF peace panel member and consultant, respectively – met with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang.
Talks to end Asia’s longest-running communist insurgency resumed in August 2016. It is facilitated by Norwegian Special Envoy to the peace process Elisabeth Slåttum.
The negotiators are expected to focus on finalizing the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), the most contentious agenda in the talks. Land reform and national industrialization are the two key issues under CASER.
The peace talks were momentarily disturbed when President Rodrigo Duterte scrapped the formal negotiations in February. He did this a day after he lifted the government’s unilateral ceasefire with the New People’s Army.
But Duterte was prevailed upon to resume the talks despite the continuation of clashes between the military and the NPA. – Rappler.com