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Reds, Philippine gov’t peace panel hold talks in Oslo

Publication Date : 17-06-2012

 

Representatives from the Philippine government and communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines held a two-day meeting in Oslo, Norway to pave the way for the resumption of formal peace negotiation to end the more than four decades of armed conflict in the country.

“The Parties have agreed to continue meaningful discussions of concerns and issues raised by both sides on June 14 and 15, 2012 in Oslo, to pave the way for the resumption of the formal talks in the peace negotiations in order to resolve the armed conflict and attain a just and lasting peace,”  Ruth de Leon, executive director of the NDFP International Information Office, said in an email statement sent Sunday morning quoting the joint communiqué issued by the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) –NDFP after the meeting.

The government and the communist rebels have yet to return to the peace table after they first met in Oslo on February last year.

The last attempt to talk peace reached an impasse following a disagreement over the release of detained communist rebels. The government countered that the discordant demands from the rebels impede the resumption of the peace talks.

De Leon said the government panel was composed of Alexander Padilla, chairperson; Efren Moncupa and Jurgette Honculada, panel members; Paulyn Sicam, consultant; and Maria Carla Villarta, director and secretariat head.

The communist negotiating panel was led by Luis Jalandoni, NDFP chairperson; Fidel Agcaoili and Julieta de lima, panel members; Jose Ma. Sison, chief political consultant; and Rachel Pastores, legal consultant.

De Leon said the Royal Norwegian government (RNG) acted as third party facilitator and was represented by Ambassador Ture N.L. Lundh, ambassador of RNG to the Philippines; Knut Solem and Sverre Johan Kvale, senior adviser, Section for Peace and Reconciliation, Foreign Ministry.

Former Senator Wigberto Tañada attended the meeting as observer, De Leon said.

De Leon said the NDFP team raised the following concerns and issues during the meeting:

Respect for and compliance with all bilateral agreements without qualification. The bilateral agreements were signed without reservation. Elaboration or amendment to the agreements must be by mutual agreement of both parties.

Release of all 356 political prisoners in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Hernandez political offense doctrine.

Respect for and compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

Release of all 14 NDFP Consultants and JASIG-protected NDFP personnel.

Independent investigation of the extrajudicial killing of NDFP Political Consultant Sotero Llamas and the enforced disappearances of Leo Velasco, Prudencio Calubid, Rogelio Calubad and other NDFP consultants, family and staff.

Recognition of GRP/GPH responsibility for instigating raids on NDFP office, JMS (Jose Ma Sison) and other NDFP personnel in August 2007.

Reconstruction of Document of Identification (DI) list; use of encrypted photos as legitimate photos.

Rectification of “terrorist listing” of CPP, NPA and Prof. Jose Ma. Sison by US and other foreign governments being declared by Secretary Deles as “sovereign right” of these foreign governments (February 2004) and “welcomed” by former GRP/GPH President Gloria Arroyo and declared by her as “not intervention in internal affairs” of the Philippines (August 2002).

Indemnification of victims of human rights violations under the Marcos regime in connection with the human rights litigation in the US as provided for in the CARHRIHL.

De Leon said government compliance with their concerns could open the way for the resumption of formal peace talks.

De Leon said the NDFP have also responded to the government concern and issues on the declaration of ceasefire.

“Regarding the proposal for ceasefire and related matters, our two panels can discuss these in connection with an earlier proposal of the NDFP for a Concise Agreement for an Immediate Just Peace as well as with the later proposal for truce and alliance submitted directly to your President and considered as subject matter of the special track,” De Leon said quoting the NDFP panel.

De Leon said the NDFP is also ready to engage the government in a discussion on the implementation of the 1998 GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement in Support of Socioeconomic Projects or Private Development Organisations and Institutes.

The communist guerilla war, one of the longest and deadliest in Asia, already claimed more than 40,000 lives, according to government figures and despite a series of peace talks by successive presidents, peace remains elusive.

The on and off peace talks between the government and the communist rebels have been stalled since 2004 because both parties were adamant in pushing for their respective preconditions before the start of the talks.

 

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