PH gov’t, communists to resume talks in July

Voltaire Tupaz

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PH gov’t, communists to resume talks in July
(UPDATED) Incoming Duterte administration negotiators and the National Democratic Front sign a joint statement in Oslo, Norway

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Laughter, hugs, and handshakes sealed the first joint statement of the members of the negotiating panels of incoming President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s administration and the National Democratic Front (NDF).

The joint statement signed in Oslo, Norway on Wednesday, June 15, announced the resumption of the formal peace talks between the Philippine government and the communists in the 3rd week of July.

The statement was crafted during the two-day exploratory talks between the negotiating panels facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government led by its peace process special envoy Ambassador Elisabeth Slåttum.

Peace talks agenda 

The talks will tackle the following agenda, according to the peace negotiators:

  • Affirmation of previously signed agreements
  • Accelerated process of negotiations
  • Reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) list
  • Amnesty Proclamation for the release of all detained political prisoners, subject to concurrence by Congress
  • Mode of interim ceasefire

Jesus Dureza, Duterte’s incoming adviser on the peace process, flew to Norway on Friday, June 10, to meet with the NDF panel that included its chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni, its chief political adviser Jose Maria Sison, and member Fidel Agcaoli. NDF represents the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), in the peace talks with the government.

Dureza went to Norway with incoming labor secretary and chief government negotiator Silvestro Bello III and former congressman Hernani Braganza, who will be a member of the government panel.

Recommendations to Duterte

The incoming government’s peace panel will present to Duterte the following recommendations:

  • Immediate release of NDF consultants and other persons protected by JASIG for them to be able to participate in the talks.
  • Immediate release of other political prisoners based on humanitarian grounds. 

The talks seek to end the 47-year-old insurgency, one of Asia’s longest, which has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives since the 1960s. 

Prospects for the resumption of the talks with the communists resurfaced during the campaign season after Sison and Duterte, in a chat via Skype, agreed to observe a ceasefire between government and the NPA if Duterte wins. –

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