2nd round of peace talks ends on a high in Oslo
OSLO—Despite Norway’s chilly weather, commitments were renewed and warm relationships strengthened in the second round of talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
After several breaks, delays and back channeling, both parties were able to reach common drafts for the framework and outlines of the substantive agenda on socioeconomic, political and constitutional reforms, and the end of hostilities and disposition of forces.
These will set the direction, in both form and content, for the crafting of the draft comprehensive agreements that will be discussed in the following months.
The most trying moments, the panels said, were discussions on amnesty, the release of political prisoners and the bilateral ceasefire agreement.
The NDFP asserted that the revolutionary movement was apprehensive about signing a bilateral ceasefire while 434 political prisoners were still held in different jails in the country.
Already with President
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, government peace panel chair, said he hoped the NDFP was happy the draft of the amnesty proclamation was already in the Office of the President.
The government panel earlier disclosed that the draft amnesty proclamation was submitted to the Office of the President on Sept. 27, days before the second round of talks started.
The draft amnesty proclamation covers 434 political prisoners. The number was based on a list submitted by the NDFP on Sept. 15. At least 81 of the political prisoners, including women and elderly, were also considered for immediate release on humanitarian considerations.
Bello explained that while government procedures must be observed for the amnesty, the government panel would work on releasing at least 81 political prisoners—women, the sick and the elderly—on humanitarian grounds.
A bilateral ceasefire agreement is expected within the month if the release of the political prisoners pushes through.
With this, Bello proposed during the closing of the second round of talks that the signing of the bilateral ceasefire agreement be done in Davao City in the presence of President Duterte.
NDFP peace panel chair Fidel Agcaoili posed no objection to the proposal as long as the commitment to release the political prisoners was honored.
At the closing ceremony, the parties signed a six-page document titled Joint Statement on the Second Round of Talks Between the GRP and the NDFP.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.