Statement of GPH Chief Negotiator Alexander Padilla about the Formal Talks with CPP/NPA/NDF on Feb 15-21
Alexander A. Padilla
Chair, GPH Panel for Talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF
11 February 2011
On behalf of government and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles, it is my privilege to announce that after an impasse of over six (6) years, formal talks between the Government of the Philippines and the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF) resumes beginning Tuesday, February 15 until February 21, 2011.
These talks shall be held in Oslo, Norway, under the auspices of the Royal Norwegian Government which has been acting as Third Party Facilitator since 2001, a role for which we are truly grateful and appreciative. 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.
We believe that this is the most opportune time to resume the peace talks, at the start of a new and popular administration that has offered the hand of peace to our communist brothers and sisters. Our most optimistic projection is that this process can be completed –that is, 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. For the further information of media and the public, next week’s talks will be the first in a series of meetings that will focus on the remaining substantive agenda agreed upon between the NDF and the GPH – 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.
To accelerate the process, 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. 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.
Also in Oslo next week, the Joint Monitoring Committee will reconvene to discuss matters pertaining to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law or CARHRIHL, the first agreement reached under the substantive agenda.
To ensure that the talks are not bogged down by side issues, both sides have agreed on a ‘side-table’ mechanism where important but non-substantive and procedural issues will be tackled.
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.
We leave for Oslo on Sunday with the blessings of our principal, President Benigno S. Aquino III, and confident in the support of our people as we face the daunting task of discussing the reforms that will make the CPP-NPA-NDF end the 40-year insurgency. We ask the media to help us in this regard, through your fair and balanced reporting.#