Friday, June 22, 2012

From the Website of OPPAP

GPH, NDF meet for informal talks, agree to continue discussions

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Posted on Sunday, 17 June, 2012 - 20:00
The Philippine government panel for talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines agreed to meet the NDF informally to tackle the issues and concerns that have caused an impasse in the peace negotiations since February 2011.

This was announced by Alexander A. Padilla, chairman of the GPH panel who led a small delegation to Oslo last week to meet  with the leadership of the NDF, on the invitation of the Royal Norwegian Government in an attempt to revive the lagging peace process. The RNG also invited Senator Wigberto Tanada as an impartial observer, being a "common friend of both panels" to help restart the stalled process.
After a two-day meeting, the parties agreed to meet again informally, to continue "meaningful discussions" toward the resumption of formal talks.

Chairman Padilla raised the GPH's issues and concerns, among them a ceasefire or at least the lowering of the levels of violence, especially against civilians and other non-combatants such as business establishments. He also raised the GPH's continuing objection to the NPA's use of landmines in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

On their part, the NDF, led by chairman Luis Jalandoni and Jose Maria Sison, its chief political consultant, pressed for the release of most if not all 14 political detainees who it claims to be consultants in the peace process. It also raised, among others, the issue of reconstructing its list of JASIG-protected members after the failure of the verification process in July last year rendered their original list of 85 alias-bearers inoperative.

The NDF also put on the table for further discussion a possible arrangement for "truce and alliance" which it has been floating since 2011.

Both the GPH and the NDF responded positively to a suggestion made by Senator Tanada to discuss the possible implementation of the Joint Agreement in Support of Socio-Economic Projects of Private Development Organizations and Institutes to bring progress and prosperity to conflict areas, towards the attainment of a just and lasting peace. This agreement was signed by the parties in 1998 but its implementation was held in abeyance pending the approval of their respective principals.

Chair Padilla views the prospects of renewed talks with guarded optimism. "After such a long impasse marked by distrust and misunderstanding, this is a welcome development, an opportunity for a new beginning. We look forward to more meaningful discussions with the hope that it will lead to productive formal talks."

He added, "We have wasted 25 years fighting each other rather than working together for our people." #

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