Gov’t, Reds eye resumption of peace talks
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Back-channel efforts are currently going on between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) for the resumption of stalled peace negotiations the soonest, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.
Bello, who used to chair the government panel in talks with the NDFP, told participants of the two-day online Ninth Ecumenical Church Leaders’ Summit on Peace on Thursday that he and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Hernani Braganza were supposed to travel in late December to the Netherlands for informal discussions but was overtaken by the pandemic.
He said the back channel effort was known to the Norwegian government, which was facilitating the negotiations.
“The talk is very much alive. You have to take my word for it,” Bello said.
He added that he is confident the peace negotiations with the NDFP, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, can resume within the remaining period of the term of President Duterte.
“[Mr.] Duterte is very much inclined to once again walk down that winding path,” Bello said.
Speaking from the Netherlands, Juliet De Lima, chair of NDFP’s interim peace panel, confirmed the back-channel efforts.
De Lima said that up for discussion in the back-channel talk was the formulation of an interim peace agreement, including the declaration of a limited ceasefire and definition of a territory that will be off-limits to either side’s intrusive military activities in order to prevent clashes.
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