Palace optimistic on NDF peace talks

July 30, 2009 8:53 am 

MANILA, July 30 –- Malacañang is optimistic on the forthcoming resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) Peace Panel and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Norway sometime this coming August.

Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Thursday said even if the talks were suspended last year, the GRP and NDF were able to conclude one substantive issue which is the comprehensive agreement on international human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL).

“Before I left the peace process we were already discussing the salient features on socio-economic reforms and I think we were at the verge of coming up with a consensus,” Bello said during a press briefing today.

So, after that would be political and electoral reforms, Bello said. Finally, the fourth and the last is the disposition of forces and cessation of hostilities.

“I think we were able to hurdle the most difficult substantive issue which is the issue of human rights and IHL,” Bello said.

“With the issue of socio-economic reforms, I’m very confident that the issues on political and electoral reform will be very easy to handle. That’s why we estimate that they will come up with an agreement before the end of the term of President Arroyo will push through,” Bello said.

Reports reaching Malacañang said the NDF is preparing for the resumption of formal peace talks with the Philippine government in Oslo, Norway “sometime in August 2009,” Luis Jalandoni, chair of the NDFP negotiating panel announced.

“On behalf of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), I wish to announce that preparations are being made by the Negotiating Panels of the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) for the resumption of formal talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway sometime in August 2009,” Jalanadoni said in a statement issued July 8.

Prospects are bright that the stalled peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front -Communist party of the Philippines-New People's Army (NDF-CPP-NPA) may resume soon after Malacanang lifted the suspension of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG) effective July 17.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Avelino Razon said that the government and the NDF may soon return to the negotiating table after the successful conduct of informal talks between the two panels.

Razon said "after the consultations with the NDF negotiating panel organized with the Norwegian government as facilitator, the Philippine government panel for talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF is pleased to announce that the prospects for a return to the peace negotiating table are very good."

Formal negotiations between the government and the NDF were suspended in 2004 following demands from the rebel group to have their armed organization delisted from the organizations identified by the United States and some European countries as a terrorist group.

The President ordered the suspension of the JASIG after the NDF unilaterally withdrew from the negotiating table in August 2005.

The JASIG suspension, which took effect Sept.2, 2005, will have the effect of lifting the safe conduct passes of 97 NDF peace negotiators. (PNA)>/V3/JCA/

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