NDF, incoming Duterte peace panel agree to hold formal talks in July

Dureza credited Duterte for his “bold and out-of-the-box positions” that enabled them to achieve “very significant steps” in their initial talks with the NDFP.

Read also: Progressives laud GPH-NDFP exploratory talks

By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA and RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – The incoming peace panel of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines negotiators agreed to hold formal talks in July based on previously signed agreements.

Both parties released a joint statement last night (1 a.m. Manila time) after two days of exploratory talks in Oslo, Norway facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG).

Silvestre Bello, incoming GPH panel chairperson; Hernani Braganza, incoming member; Jesus Dureza, incoming presidential adviser on the peace process signed for the incoming Duterte administration. For the NDFP, Luis Jalandoni, Jose Maria Sison and Fidel Agcaoili signed the joint statement. Ambassador Elisabeth Slattum, special envoy of the RNG to the Philippine peace process signed as a witness.

After five years of impasse, the GPH and the NDFP have cleared the air for the resumption of formal talks.

Dureza credited Duterte for his “bold and out-of-the-box positions” that enabled them to achieve “very significant steps” in their initial talks with the NDFP.

Members of the incoming Duterte administration peace panel and the NDFP negotiators, along with representatives from the Royal Norwegian Government, pose for a group picture after the signing of the Oslo joint statement last night (1 a.m., Manila time). (Photo courtesy of Ariel Casilao)
Members of the incoming Duterte administration peace panel and the NDFP negotiators, along with representatives from the Royal Norwegian Government, pose for a group picture after the signing of the Oslo joint statement last night (1 a.m., Manila time). (Photo courtesy of Ariel Casilao)

For Jalandoni, “the success of the exploratory talks shows there is big hope and expectations that we can move forward to address the roots of the armed conflict and to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Philippines.”

Edre Olalia, NDFP legal adviser said the joint statement “is a breakthrough in a way, as it reopens a lot of closed doors.”

The GPH-NDFP formal talks under Aquino have been stalled since 2011. The GPH peace panel refused to uphold previously signed agreements such as The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees of 1995.

Incumbent presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles has reportedly described the The Hague Joint Declaration as a “document of perpetual division” while incumbent GPH chief negotiator has reportedly declared Jasig as “inoperative.”


(Video by Ariel Casilao, editing by Pom Villanueva for Kodao Productions)

Agenda

The parties agreed to discuss five agenda items for the formal talks.

First is the affirmation of previously signed agreements.

Both parties would discuss accelerated process for negotiations, including the timeline for the completion of the remaining substantive agenda for the talks.

According to the Hague Joint Declaration of 1992, the next agenda items are: socio-economic reforms; political and constitutional reforms; end of hostilities and disposition of forces. The first substantive agreement, the Comprehensive Agreement for Respect on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), was signed in March 1998.

The incoming Duterte peace panel agreed to reconstitute the NDFP’s Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) list.

The diskette containing the list was corrupted when the Dutch police raided the NDFP international headquarters in Utretch, The Netherlands in August 2007.

Both parties agreed to work for amnesty declaration for the release of all political prisoners, subject to concurrence by Congress.

The GPH and the NDFP will also discuss in July the mode of interim ceasefire.

Expected immediate actions

The incoming GPH panel pledged to recommend to Duterte the immediate release of all detained NDFP consultants and other Jasig-protected individuals to enable them to participate in the peace negotiations and the immediate release of other political prisoners based on humanitarian grounds.

There are 18 NDFP consultants detained in different jails all over the country.

According to human rights alliance Karapatan, there are 82 political prisoners suffering from various ailments. Under Aquino, five political prisoners died in prison due to lack of medical care. ()

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