GPH: Now is the best time to resume peace talks with NDF
Manila, Feb. 11 – The Government of the Philippines (GPH) believes that now is the “most opportune time” to revive peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to put an end to the armed conflict that has plagued the country for decades.
Government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla in a press statement today said that peace talks is best resumed now as this is the “start of a new and popular administration that has offered the hand of peace to our communist brothers and sisters.”
Both parties agreed to hold formal talks on February 15-21 in Oslo, Norway, under the auspices of the Royal Norwegian Government, which has been acting as Third Party Facilitator since 2001.
“As previously agreed upon and in the spirit of goodwill and as part of confidence building measures, a ceasefire or cessation of hostilities shall also be unilaterally declared by each side and to be honoured for the entire duration of the formal talks or a total of seven full days,” Padilla said.
He expressed optimism that peace with the communist left can be achieved within three years. “Substantive agreements can be reached – in 18 months time, and peace achievable in three years if both sides are focused and sincere in finally ending senseless violence.”
“Our goal is to reach a just and equitable peace settlement with the CPP-NPA-NDF and put an end to one of the most protracted armed conflicts in this part of the world. With them, we hope to build the peace that has eluded our people for so long,” Padilla added.
The chief negotiator related that next week’s talks will be the first in a series of meetings that will focus on the remaining substantive agenda agreed upon by the GPH and the NDF. These are socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and the end of hostilities and disposition of forces.
“The discussions on socio-economic reforms (SER) will be undertaken by Reciprocal Working Committees (RWC) representing both sides,” Padilla stated.
He also said that working groups on political and constitutional reforms (PCR) have been organized to “discuss the concept, mechanics, schedule and inter-phasing with the RWCs on PCR” to speed up the process.
“Hopefully, these will result in agreements on the reforms that need to be pursued and we can proceed to the last step, discussions on the End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces,” he said.
Padilla likewise reported that part of the agenda will be the reconvening of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the GPH and NDF to discuss matters on the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), which is the first agreement reached by both sides under the substantive agenda.
While positive on the upcoming formal talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF on Tuesday, Padilla said that peace negotiation is “only one element in our nation’s journey towards lasting peace and genuine development.”
“While we will try our best to reach agreement on the substantive issues, in the end, any agreement will remain a mere piece of paper unless the roots of the conflict are resolved and a just and equitable peace is achieved and enjoyed by all. Fortunately, we represent a government that is well on its way on that path,” he stated.
Padilla, together with other members of the government peace panel, will leave for Oslo on Feb. 13, Sunday. #