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PH gov’t, NDF sign joint statement; end of talks eyed in 1 year

/ 06:06 PM August 26, 2016

The Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) on Friday signed a joint statement to mark the culmination of the first round of formal peace talks and their commitment to continue the ceasefire.

The peace panels of the two parties signed the joint statement during a press conference in Oslo, Norway, where the negotiations were held.

READ: PH-NDF panels fast-track peace talks

Norwegian facilitator Elizabeth Slattum read the summary of the statement, which enumerated the issues agreed upon by the government and the NDF.

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The updates mentioned were already shared with the media previously. These include the reaffirmation of previously signed agreements, the reconstitution of the list of people protected by the Joint Agreement for Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), the acceleration of the peace process, the promise to release imprisoned NDF consultants and the issuance of an amnesty proclamation for the release of political prisoners.

READ: 3 of 5 issues resolved in PH gov’t, NDF talks in Norway

The statement said the Communist Party of the Philippines and its political arm, the NDF, will also “declare and issue an indefinite unilateral ceasefire order” to the New People’s Army.

CPP founder and NDF chief political consultant Jose Maria “Joma” Sison said the current unilateral ceasefire will give way to a unilateral interim ceasefire.

The ceasefire orders of both parties will later be reconciled during a bilateral talk, he said.

The two panels will meet again for the next round of talks on October 8 to 12.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that there was a huge possibility that the negotiations would be concluded within the period of 9 to 12 months.”

Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza called the event “unprecedented.”

“There’s still a lot of work to be done ahead…Let us all stay the course together no matter what,” he said.

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Sison said among the key factors that resulted in the success of the first round of talks was the “political will and determination” of President Rodrigo Duterte and the NDF leadership.

In earlier interviews with INQUIRER.net, Sison said working groups will simultaneously hold meetings for the drafting of the three remaining agreements on socioeconomic reforms, political and economic reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces. He said the drafts would likely be available in six months.

Of the four agreements to be finalized by the two parties, only the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl) has been approved in the past. RAM/rga

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TAGS: Government, National Democratic Front, NDF, Peace agreement, Peace Talks
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