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What went before: peace talks between gov’t, communist rebels

/ 04:47 AM July 11, 2015

Peace talks between the government and the communist rebels have been going on and off for nearly three decades, with negotiations getting suspended several times.

Last month, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government was open to resuming formal peace talks with the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), following the government’s successful negotiation of a framework agreement for peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

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In May, President Benigno Aquino III said that while he was all for resuming the peace negotiations with the communists, the other side had to show sincerity.

In April, NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni said Mr. Aquino had become an “obstacle” to the resumption of peace talks, accusing the President of using the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the MILF issues as an excuse to stall negotiations.

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Jalandoni’s remark came after then Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang’s statement that the military fully supported the government in its commitment to end all internal armed conflicts and push peace and development in conflict-affected areas.

Jalandoni told reporters the Aquino administration could only handle “one peace talk at a time.”

In a podcast on his website last December, CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison said the government and the NDFP “might resume talks probably after Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines” in January.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles clarified that formal meetings had yet to happen for the resumption of peace talks, but both parties were amenable to returning to the negotiating table to end more than four decades of communist insurgency.

Sison said that while he believed the two parties would not be able to reach a peace agreement before the Aquino administration ends in June 2016, they could reach agreements for, at the very least, social and economic reforms and a ceasefire.

Malacañang later clarified that it was not committing to the release of CPP leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, who were arrested in Cebu in March last year, as a condition to restart peace negotiations.

It was not the first time that Sison said he was willing to resume peace talks with the government. In May last year, Sison also said he “remained willing” to meet with the President to help jump-start the stalled peace talks despite the arrest of the Tiamzons. Sison made the remarks via Skype at a forum in Hong Kong, which was attended by an audience of mostly domestic workers.

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At the time, Deles said “any serious proposal toward resuming peace talks should be coursed through our third-party facilitator and not through the media.”

Deles was referring to Norway, which is brokering the peace negotiations between the government and the NDFP.

The insurgents’ recent call for the resumption of peace talks was a reversal of their statement in December 2013, when the CPP declared it would no longer pursue negotiations because of the Aquino administration’s “unwillingness to negotiate a just peace.”

“It has no choice but to wait for the next regime to engage in serious negotiations,” the CPP said.

According to Sison, it was the administration that decided to terminate peace negotiations, but Deles said it was the NDFP, the political arm of the CPP, that “killed” the talks because of its insistence on conditions for the resumption of the talks.

In February 2011, the two parties met in Norway but failed to reach a settlement on the release of detained communist insurgents and the declaration of a longer ceasefire. The peace process has not moved since then.

Sources: Inquirer Archives, opapp.gov.ph

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TAGS: Coloma, communist, communist rebels, Luis Jalandoni, Peace Talks
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