Gov’t ready for 3rd round of peace talks
Chief government negotiator Silvestre Bello III will submit today to President Duterte the draft documents that will be tabled for discussion in the third round of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Rome, Italy, from Jan. 19 to 25.
“We are all set and ready to engage the NDFP in the discussion of all substantive agenda, including supplemental agreements needed to proceed and arrive at a peaceful negotiated political settlement to end the armed conflict in the country,” Bello said in a statement issued by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
The peace panelists will go to Malacañang for a courtesy call on Mr. Duterte before leaving this evening, the OPAPP said.
The main group of government delegation will leave for Rome tomorrow in time for the opening of talks on Thursday.
The OPAPP said among the documents to be submitted to the President are drafts and other documents for the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms and other agreements on political and constitutional reforms, and on the end of hostilities and disposition of forces.
Bello said he was confident that major breakthroughs would again be achieved in the Rome talks, adding, “We are prepared to sign side and other agreements while we are discussing contents and provisions of the major substantive agenda.”
Bello, who is also labor secretary, explained that the government was also set to sign a supplemental agreement to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law which will include an expanded role of the joint monitoring committee.
Genuine quest for peace
“We are doing this in the spirit of true reconciliation and genuine quest for just and lasting peace. We are challenging the NDFP to formalize the unilateral ceasefire with a bilateral ceasefire agreement to give our communities and combatants a more secure environment for the peace process,” Bello said.
The NDFP, an umbrella group of progressive social and economic justice organizations, acts as the representative of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its paramilitary wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
The CPP-NPA-NDFP has been waging a nearly 40-year-old Maoist insurgency in the Philippines.
Peace negotiations with the NDFP resumed in August last year after more than five years of impasse.
During the round of talks held that month in Norway, both panels agreed to reaffirm all previous signed agreements and reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Agreements and release of jailed NDFP leaders and members.
In the second round, also held in Norway, negotiators exchanged outlines and agreed to accelerate the negotiations.