GPH, NDF peace panels agree on 6 major agenda in Oslo talks

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/26 August) — The peace panels of the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front on Thursday reached agreement on six major agenda taken up at the resumption of the formal peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway, the two parties said in separate press statements on Friday.

The Parties agreed on the following:reaffirmation of previously signed agreements, reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) list, acceleration of the formal talks in the peace negotiations,  release of political prisoners, amnesty proclamation by President Duterte and mode of interim ceasefire.

The session reaffirmed all previously signed agreements namely, The Hague Joint Declaration in 1992, the JASIG in 1996 and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in 1998.

All three documents were signed under the Ramos administration.

“The panels also agreed to reconstitute the JASIG list after the first document was corrupted.  The encrypted list will contain the photos and identities of NDF consultants who are still underground who will be immune to arrest while the peace process is undergoing,” the government statement said.

“The Philippine government will issue documents of acknowledgment for the NDF consultants still in hiding and for the 54 ‘publicly known NDF personalities’,” it said.

It added the parties agreed to accelerate the peace negotiations and set timelines for the completion of the remaining substantive agenda.

Still to be discussed in detail are socioeconomic reforms; political and constitutional reforms; and, end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

The parties also have to tackle the details of the amnesty proclamation, joint monitoring committees, further releases of detained NDF personnel, and the modality and mechanics of the ceasefire.

The parties were scheduled to sign a Joint Statement for this round of the talks at 11am (Oslo time) on Friday in the presence of Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brenden. The talks that marked the resumption of formal peace negotiations started on Monday.

The Royal Norwegian Government serves as the facilitator of the talks.

“The unprecedented and historic pace and conclusion of this Oslo round left the host Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) very pleased and satisfied,” the Philippine government’s statement said.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus G. Dureza called the Oslo round a milestone under the Duterte administration, and “an accomplishment that would be welcomed by the Filipino people.”

“Not only has President Duterte walked the extra mile. He has also taken a step back to give the NDF space under his democratic and inclusive government,” Dureza said.

“We will go home with a promise of a just and lasting peace and our soldiers and the combatants of the NDF finally coming to terms that the war must end,” he added.

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello, chair of the government panel said they are looking towards “a final peace agreement with the NDF to end almost half a century of armed hostilities across the Philippine countryside.”

He said the releases of 21 detained NDF consultants were crucial in the resumption of the peace negotiations.

For his part, NDF peace panel head Luis Jalandoni acknowledged the determination of President Duterte of ending the almost 50-year old armed conflict in the country and forging peace with the rebel forces.

“Good news to the Filipino people that the political prisoners would be released, and land reform and other social and economic reforms will be seriously undertaken. So, the farmers of Hacienda Luisita and Hacienda Look may be gladdened that these steps are going forward,” Jalandoni said.

“But we need the people to continue building their strength to defend their rights and to work with us in bringing about a just and lasting peace in our country,” he added.

Both sides recognized the cordial attitude of their counterparts [during the talks].

Jalandoni noted the “significant, positive developments and friendly atmosphere in the peace talks, with excellent facilitation of the Royal Norwegian Government.”

Bello thanked the NDF negotiators for their “patience and candidness.”

RNG representative Elizabeth Slattum said she was amazed and her government was pleased with the success of the Oslo round of talks that took placeon August 22-25 at the scenic mountaintop Holmenkollen Park Hotel, venue of negotiations of armed conflicts across the globe.

Peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDF were suspended in 2011.

Duterte had promised to reopen talks and release all imprisoned rebel leaders during the election campaign period.

He appointed some leaders of the Left to Cabinet positions.

He announced a reimposition of an indefinite unilateral ceasefire declaration when talks were resumed on August 22.

The NDF had also earlier declared a seven-day unilateral ceasefire for the duration of the Oslo talks but has already committed to reciprocate the President’s announcement with an indefinite unilateral declaration of its own. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)