GRP, NDF to finalize truce agreement next month

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 Sept) – The peace panels of the Philippine government (GRP) and National Democratic Front (NDF) will finalize a ceasefire agreement when they return to Oslo, Norway next month for the continuation of talks.

Speaking in Kapehan sa Dabaw on Monday, GRP peace panel member lawyer Angela Librado-Trinidad said they have been studying common guidelines for the truce.

“Both declared unilateral ceasefire, which is backed by documents. The GPH (GRP) is following its own guidelines at this point. The unified document is critical that will bind both parties,” she said.

The GRP declared an indefinite unilateral ceasefire last August 20 and the CPP reciprocated eight days after.

Trinidad said a bilateral ceasefire is necessary to enable both panels to freely conduct consultations on contentious substantive agenda such as the Comprehensive Agreement on Socioeconomic Reforms (CASER).

Considered the “heart and soul” of the GRP-NDF peace negotiations, CASER touches on agrarian reform, national industrialization, and foreign policy, among others.

The negotiations cover four agenda namely, respect for human rights and International Humanitarian Law, social and economic reforms, political and electoral reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

The first agenda had been concluded during the time of former president Fidel V. Ramos with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Trinidad said the GRP panel will hold a series of small meetings before the October 6-10 Oslo talks to ensure that reciprocal working committees and reciprocal working groups finish their tasks beforehand.

The meeting was moved from October 8-12 to October 6-10 due to prior commitments of Labor Secretary and GRP peace panel chair Silvestre Bello III in Cebu.

In last month’s Oslo talks, both parties agreed to simultaneously tackle all the substantive agenda but that the CASER should be prioritized and settled within six months.

Also last month in Oslo, the panels affirmed the previously-signed agreements; agreed to accelerate process for negotiations, including the timeline for the completion of the remaining substantive agenda for the talks; and reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees list.

According to a press release from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process, human rights lawyer and former political detainee Efren Moncupa will lead the GRP-RWC, and his counterpart from the NDF is Juliet de Lima-Sison, a member of the NDF peace panel. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)