Communist rebels open to talks for ceasefire with PH gov't | Inquirer News
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Communist rebels open to talks for ceasefire with PH gov’t

/ 07:43 AM January 15, 2016

MANILA, Philippines — The Communist Party of the Philippines’ negotiating arm, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, is open to talks about ceasefire with the national government, although hopes of ever sealing a peace agreement within the term of the Aquino administration have dimmed.

“The possibility of a ceasefire should be consulted with the negotiating panels. This is possible as long as it is discussed by both sides,” Randy Felix Malayao, peace consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, speaking on the sidelines of a peace forum in Makati on Thursday.

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Two Norwegian peace facilitators Ambassador Dag Nylander and Elisabeth Slåttum are in the Philippines to hold discussions with leaders and members of the negotiating panels of the government and the NDF.

Ambassador Nylander facilitates talks between the Government of Colombia and the Colombian Marxist rebel group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejercito del Pueblo (FARC-EP). Slåttum is currently the special envoy to the peace process between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

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Apart from Malayao, Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal was at the forum organized by the Norwegian embassy and the nongovernment organization International Alert UK Philippines on Thursday afternoon

Norway has been facilitating the talks between the Philippine government and the NDFP. It has likewise been involved in peace and reconciliation efforts in Colombia for decades. It is the official facilitator along with Cuba for the ongoing peace process between Colombian government and revolutionary armed group.

In an interview with reporters on Thursday, Malayao said the NDFP no longer had hopes that peace talks could resume under the Aquino administration.

“I don’t think so. We are now preparing for the next administration,” he said.

Asked if the NDFP’s demands would be the same, Malayao said their conditions would depend “on the openness of the next administration.”

“But there might be some adjustments. For example, they might release ailing political consultants of the NDFP,” he said.

The NDFP has been attributing the failure of the peace talks under the Aquino administration to the latter’s “intransigence to honor the Oslo accord of releasing political consultants of the NDFP.”

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In the joint statements in 2011 and 2004 signed by the Philippine government and the NDFP in Oslo, Norway, the Philippine government has expressed commitment to undertake steps for the release of political prisoners.

“Under the Oslo accord, majority of the political consultants detained, if not all, must be released,” Malayao said.

Francisco Lara, country manager of the International Alert in the Philippines, said his organization has been pushing for the revival of the talks for a ceasefire between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

“You would not have a problem with trust from both sides when there is a ceasefire mechanisms. It is difficult to move forward with the peace talks when there would always be casualties in either end,” Lara said.

During the forum, Nylander shared some key points why the peace talks between the Colombian government and rebel group has been successful.

“The Colombian process as a point of departure is very relevant to the Philippines as both countries share similarities in the roadmap to peace,” Ambassador Nylander said.

The armed conflict in Colombia lasted for over 50 years – the longest guerrilla war in the Americas.

After three failed attempts at peace talks since the 1980s, this round of formal peace negotiations started in October 2012 and a final peace agreement is expected to be signed in the first half of 2016.

The parties have so far reached agreements on (1) integral rural development, (2) political participation, (3) solution to the problem of illicit drugs and (4) victims and truth.

In addition, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño, alias Timochenko, recently reached two decisive agreements on transitional justice and the fate of the estimated 50,000 people who disappeared during the war.

“The lessons we draw from the Colombian process will give valuable inputs in finding peaceful solutions to the conflict between the Philippine Government and NDFP,” Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Førner said for his part.

“What we can learn from the Colombians were their political will and sincerity. They agreed to agree,” said retired Aurelio Baladad, former commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  SFM

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TAGS: ambassadors, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, Ceasefire, Colombia, Colombian Marxist rebel group, Communist Party of the Philippines, Cuba, Dag Nylander, Elisabeth Slåttum, FARC-EP, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejercito del Pueblo, International Alert for UK Philippines, Juan Manuel Santos Rodrigo Londoño, Mohagher Iqbal, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Nation, National Democratic Front of the Philippines, New People's Army, News, Norway, Norwegian Embassy in Manila, peace facilitators, peace models, peace negotiations, peace process, Peace Talks, Philippine Government, Randy Felix Malayao, Timochenko
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