DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 9, 2009) – Philippine communist rebels said they are resuming formal peace talks with Manila next month, five years after the negotiations collapsed.
Luis Jalandoni, head of the communist peace panel, said preparations are being made by both sides for the resumption of formal talks in Oslo, Norway next month.
“On behalf of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, 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 for the resumption of formal talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway sometime in August 2009.”
“The GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels have agreed on the implementation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees for the purpose of enabling persons covered by JASIG to participate in the preparatory meeting and formal talks of the aforesaid parties in August. Legal teams of the two panels are currently working and cooperating to ensure the implementation of the JASIG,” Jalandoni said.
He said both the peace panels have also agreed to exchange within this month a joint statement containing the agenda and points of agreement in the formal talks.
Norway, which is brokering the peace talks, helped negotiators meet June 15 in The Hague to discuss the preparations for the resumption of formal talks, according to Jalandoni.
It was unknown if communist rebels would sign a case-fire agreement with the government or not.
The United States listed the Communist Party of the Philippines and its political arm, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and their armed wing, the New People’s Army as a foreign terrorist organization on Manila’s prodding after the peace talks collapsed. The European Union also blacklisted the three groups.
The NPA accused President Gloria Arroyo of reneging on an agreement that would free political prisoners and stop the killings of activists in the country, among others.
Secretary Avelino Razon, the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, on Wednesday said the government is ready to resume formal talks with communist and Muslim rebels in an effort to end decades of bloody secessionist war in the country.
Razon’s call came Razon’s announcement came after a series of recent bombings blamed by the police and military to the MILF killed six people and wounded dozens more in the southern Philippines.
Government peace talks with the NPA collapsed in 2004 after both sides failed to sign an agreement that will put an end to four decades of bloody fighting in the country.
Peace talks also with the MILF also in August last year after the failed signing of the Muslim ancestral domain. The MILF said Arroyo reneged on a deal that would have granted to some four million Muslims their own homeland in Mindanao. But the Supreme Court said the agreement was unconstitutional.
“After 40 years of fighting, it’s time we give peace a chance,” Razon said. “The government sees a good prospect for the resumption of the talks in the immediate period given the commitment of both parties to work in addressing the issues that clog the negotiating table.”
Razon said the Arroyo government is determined to end the fighting not only in Mindanao, but all other conflict areas in the country. He said the government would like to see a conclusion of the peace process, particularly with the MILF and the NPA rebels by 2010 as envisioned by Arroyo.
Razon also said that the government has intensified its rehabilitation and development projects in Mindanao and other rebel-influenced areas. But rebels said continued government offensive resulted in a humanitarian crisis and unabated human rights violations against Muslims. (Mindanao Examiner)