3 of 5 issues resolved in PH gov’t, NDF talks in Norway
The negotiating panels between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines have agreed on three major issues in the ongoing peace talks in Oslo, Norway, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said on Wednesday.
In a statement, the OPAPP said the peace panels took only four hours — from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., to settle the three key issues.
The issues that were settled include:
— Affirmation of previously-signed agreements
— Reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) list; and
— Accelerated process for negotiations, including the timeline for the completion of the remaining substantive agenda for the talks: socio-economic reforms; political economic reforms; and end of hostilities and disposition of forces, including the Joint Monitoring Committee.
Only two of the five issues remain unresolved, the mode of interim ceasefire and amnesty proclamation for the release of all detained political prisoners, but these would be negotiated on Thursday, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, concurrent chair of the government panel, was quoted as saying.
“It was a frank and honest discussion among friends. We are candid with each other, knowing that we share the common agenda of peace,” he also said.
He added that there were heated discussions during the negotiations.
“But the general atmosphere was cordial as the session was punctuated by laughter and light banter,” Bello said.
All agreements signed during the time of President Corazon Aquino up to the present were re-affirmed “subject to enhancements that may be mutually agreed upon later by both panels.”
“We may need these enhancements in the future as we do not want to be tied down by the rigidity of the past. Learning from mistakes of the previous negotiations, we want to explore all options to move the process fast forward,” Bello said.
The agreements that were re-affirmed include The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992, Breukelen Joint Statement of 1994, the JASIG and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
The OPAPP said that both panels agreed to activate the Reciprocal Working Committee on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms, as well as the Reciprocal Working Groups on Political and Constitutional Reforms, and End of Hostilities-Disposition of Forces.
“RWC and the RWGs may hold discussions on their own at the venue of their choice. We agreed that all RWC meetings will be held in Oslo, but RWG discussions may be held in the Philippines,” Bello said.
Both panels have also agreed to try to complete discussions on socio-economic reforms within six months.
Bello also said that both panels also agreed to reconstitute the list of NDF consultants who shall be immune from arrest so they can participate in the peace process.
The NDF leaders said that the list would contain the names of 54 consultants who are classified as “publicly-known” and “assumed names” of 87 guerrilla leaders. CDG