DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 June) – The Philippine government (GPH) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panels are talking again.
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) announced in a press statement on June 17 that GPH peace panel chair Alexander Padilla led a delegation to Oslo last week to meet with the NDF leadership, on invitation of the Royal Norwegian Government which is facilitating the talks.
Former Senator Wigberto Tanada was also invited by the Norwegian government to help restart the stalled peace process.
The parties met on June 14 and 15 in Oslo and issued a statement at the end of the talks that they have “agreed to continue meaningful discussions of concerns and issues raised by both sides” during the two-day talks, “to pave the way for the resumption of the formal talks in the peace negotiations in order to resolve the armed conflict and attain a just and lasting peace.”
The OPAPP statement said Padilla raised the GPH’s issues and concerns, among them a
ceasefire or at least the lowering of the levels of violence, especially against civilians and other non-combatants such as business establishments.”
Padilla also cited the panel’s continuing objection to the NPA’s alleged use of landmines in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
The NDF in a statement posted on its website on June 16, responded to the issues raised by saying, “our two panels can discuss these in connection with an earlier proposal of the NDFP for a Concise Agreement for an Immediate Just Peace as well as with the later proposal for truce and alliance submitted directly to your President and considered as subject matter of the special track.”
The OPAPP said the NDF, led by panel chair Luis Jalandoni and Jose Maria Sison, its chief political consultant, “pressed for the release of most if not all 14 political detainees who it claims to be consultants in the peace process” and the issue of “reconstructing its list of JASIG-protected members after the failure of the verification process in July last year rendered their original list of 85 alias-bearers inoperative.”
The NDF also put on the table for further discussion a possible arrangement for “truce and alliance” which it has been floating since 2011.
Both the GPH and the NDF responded positively to a suggestion made by Senator Tanada to discuss the possible implementation of the Joint Agreement in Support of Socio-Economic Projects of Private Development Organizations and Institutes to bring progress and prosperity to conflict areas, towards the attainment of a just and lasting peace. This agreement was signed by the parties in 1998 but its implementation was held in abeyance pending the approval of their respective principals.
The NDF statement they are “ready to engage your government in mutual support for the initiatives under the Agreement”
Padilla was accompanied by panel members Efren Moncupa and Jurgette Honculada. consultant Paulyn Sicam, and Maria Carla Villarta, director and secretariat head.
Jalandoni was accompanied by panel members Fidel Agcaoili and Julieta de lima, chief political consultant Jose Ma. Sison, and legal consultant Rachel Pastores.
The Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) as third party facilitator was represented by Amb. Ture N.L. Lundh, Ambassador of RNG to the Philippines Knut Solem and Sverre Johan Kvale, Senior Adviser, Section for Peace and Reconciliation, Foreign Ministry. (MindaNews)