GRP, NDFP agree on common drafts on reform agenda

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 October) – The second round of peace negotiations between the Philippine Government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) ended with both peace panels agreeing on the common draft frameworks and outlines on the three remaining substantive agenda on socioeconomic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

The second round of talks, held in Oslo, Norway ran from Oct. 6-9.

In his message, Labor Secretary and concurrent GRP peace panel chair Silvestre Bello III said that both panels advanced what they accomplished during the formal resumption of negotiations in August this year.

“And given the efforts put in by both panels and their working committees, including that of our third party facilitator, we substantially achieved the work at hand which is to craft the common frames and outlines for our draft agreements on socioeconomic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and on end of hostilities and disposition forces,” he said.

The Reciprocal Working Committees (RWCs) and Reciprocal Working Groups (RWGs) completed the outlines and frameworks after several sessions during the second round of talks.

“The disagreements and arguments that accompanied the work of some of our working committees are understandable given the scope and magnitude of the tasks before them,” Bello said.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said the agreed common outlines will now give the framework of the future peace agreement, as he emphasized that coming up with a common outline is already a big step leading towards a comprehensive settlement.

“It is important to note that these agreed outlines will now provide the framework to deliver on our commitments – gives us avenue of hope for the people to achieve a just and lasting peace,” he said.

On the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), described as the “heart and soul” of the peace negotiations, both panels agreed to exchange drafts, and hold their bilateral meetings “to correspond to the formal meetings of the negotiating panels.”

The CASER contains the most contentious such as agrarian reform, national industrialization, and foreign policy.

Based on the agreed common framework and outlines, it states that the forging of CASER is aimed to eradicate “Philippine poverty and reduce inequality in all their aspects and dimensions to have productive, decent and dignified lives.”

The RWC on political and constitutional reforms will flesh out the agreed outline on PCR between November and December 2016 in the Philippines.

Both panels will exchange enfleshed drafts in January 2017 and discuss the drafts in order to reconcile them in the next round of talks.

The RWCs on the End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces will hold unilateral meetings to develop their respective outlines for the next panel meeting.

Both committees are expected to exchange enfleshed draft outlines upon completion of the drafts of CASER and political and political and constitutional reforms.

The next round of GRP and NDFP negotiation is scheduled on the third week of January 2017 in a neutral venue.

“We will continue to encounter difficulties and potential differences in the succeeding rounds of talks, but we will not waiver from our resolve to overcome the things that divide us and fortify the ones that unit us. By these, our journey to forging a negotiated settlement of the armed conflict will be navigable,” Bello said.

Dureza added that the second round of negotiation was a “giant step forward” from mere joint statement to the actual exchange of drafts for each of the the RWCs on the three remaining substantive agenda.

“We recognize the efforts of the reciprocal working committees in finding possible areas for convergence to harmonize their respective outlines, making specific section headings and concepts to both parties,” he said.

He reiterated the commitment of the GRP to move forward the peace process with the NDFP. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)