CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/16 July) — A member of the government’s Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio Economic Reforms (RWC-SER), has assured they are on track, contrary to fears from “certain sectors” that they could not present their final draft when peace negotiations between government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) resume early next month.
Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, a member of the RWG-SER of the GPH (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) peace panel said their committee and the GPH peace panel are relatively new. “Remember we are talking about a 42-year old insurgency—the longest armed struggle in Asia—and the peace negotiations have been on and off for the last 24 years, witnessed by four Presidents. This peace panel is the fifth while the NDFP’s negotiation panel has been the same
through those years,” he said.
He said the current RWC-SER has adopted the preamble and declaration of principles drafted by the committee’s predecessor in 2004.
“Wala pa lang na finalize ang strategic interventions because we want our draft to be relevant to the changes since the last committee,” he said.
Alejo explained that NDFP’s unilateral postponement included both peace panels’ SER committees meetings hence they were not able to submit their draft.
“We will be ready when both committees exchange drafts sometime in the second week of August,” he said.
In an earlier interview on April 28, this year in Bukidnon province, NDFP RWC-SER chair Randall Echanis lamented that the Philippine government’s RWC-SER seemed to be dragging its feet in coming out with its own draft on the substantive agenda slated mid-September this
“We come to the table ready. In fact, our draft on socio-economic reforms has been ready before the impasse on the peace negotiations in 2004 during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” Echanis said.
GPH peace panel member Jurgette Honculada presented GPH’s framework of the draft saved the actual SER draft last April 28 in Bukidnon during a GPH-NDFP peace talks forum spearheaded
by Sowing the Seeds of Peace—an ecumenical coalition of church, people’s organizations and civil society groups in the island. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)