Chilling reason why PH, NDF talks moved from Oslo to Rome
Chilling reason why PH, NDF talks moved from Oslo to Rome
It's the first time that the formal peace negotiations will be held outside Norway

The 3rd round of formal talks between the Philippine government and the communist National Democratic Front (NDF), to be held from January 19 to 25, moved venues from Norway, the 3rd country facilitating the talks, to Rome in Italy. 

“I don’t know why they transferred venue. Siguro mapalapit doon sa (They might want to go near the) Pope para magrasyahan ang (to get graces for the) [talks]…,” President Rodrigo Duterte said in jest over the weekend. (READ: Gov’t in backchannel talks to protect ceasefire with Reds)

Duterte expressed hopes that the 3rd round will move the talks forward “substantially” so he could plan a possible meeting with exiled Communist Party of the Philippines Jose Maria Sison. (READ: Duterte awaits meeting with Joma Sison)

But really, why hold talks in Rome and not in the country that is arranging and paying for the talks?

The reason is chilling. It’s too cold in Oslo this time of the year and the negotiators have not forgotten the last time they froze in the deep winter of the Scandinavian country. It dipped to as low as negative 23 degrees when they were there in February 2011 for formal talks under the previous Aquino administration. 

Talaga namang ang lamig lamig sa (It’s really cold in) Oslo this time around. It’s the only reason. We both agreed in October [to hold the 3rd round of talks in Rome],” said Fidel Agcaoili, chief negotiator of the communist National Democratic Front of the Philippines. 

“We need to meet January or February kasi (because) [the last round was in] October. Mawawala ang (We will lose the) momentum e. Pero huwag naman sa (But please not in) Oslo,” Agcaoili added.

It will drop to as low as negative 8 degrees Celcius on January 19 when the talks will start, a big change from Manila’s 30-degree-Celcius weather. Rome will be considerably warmer than Oslo at 1 degree Celsius at worst. 

The negotiators have discussed moving the venue as early as the 1st round of talks in August 2016 when a number of the newly released NDF consultants fell sick while the negotiations were ongoing in Oslo. At least one NDF consultant was brought to the hospital. 

They apparently tried to pitch holding the talks in Greece or Spain, but the Norwegian facilitators of the talks opted for Rome supposedly because of better relations with the country.

The negotiators are expected to return to Oslo for the next round of talks. – Carmela Fonbuena/

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