NDF welcomes Duterte’s peace gesture
DAVAO CITY –– National Democratic Front (NDF) chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said they appreciate the recent effort of the government to jumpstart the stalled peace talks with the communist rebels.
“We welcome the announcement of the desire of the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) to resume the talks and that we shall await the arrival of Secretary Bello to listen to their offer,” Agcaoili told the Inquirer.
President Duterte on Thursday evening divulged that he was sending Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to The Netherlands to propose the resumption of the stalled peace talks.
The exploratory meeting, sources said, was supposed to be confidential until Duterte made it public on Thursday.
It is, however, still confidential what the government is proposing for the negotiations.
Duterte described his order to Bello to meet with the NDF as his “last card” in achieving peace because his “time is running out.”
Bello used to be the chairman of the government’s peace panel in talks with the NDF until it was dissolved by Duterte in March this year.
The Bello panel was composed of Hernani Braganza and lawyers Rene Sarmiento, Antonio Arellano, and Angela Librado, all of whom are familiar and have a working knowledge of the issues encompassed in the peace negotiations.
Before the termination of talks, both Parties were able to agree on crucial points in four productive rounds of talks.
The gains, Agcaoili earlier said, include tentative agreements on the specific sections of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms.
These sections, which are considered the heart of the peace negotiations, cover agrarian reform, rural development, and economic development.
A backchannel meeting between the two Parties in June last year produced drafts on a Stand Down Agreement and the Guidelines and Procedures Towards an Interim Peace Agreement. But these were all scrapped after the government team returned to the country.
After Duterte pushed for localized peace talks, which the NDF opposed, explaining that the substantive agenda covered by the negotiations are beyond the limits of local governments.
The substantive agenda, as agreed in the 1992 The Hague Joint Declaration, include human rights, socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces.
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