“With the kind of ambience on both sides, I don’t think there would be big obstacles. Parang maganda ‘yung usapan across the table,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said.
By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
OSLO, Norway — On the second day of formal peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), both parties agreed on three important issues.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said both parties have already agreed to reaffirm all previously signed agreements, reconstitute NDFP’s list of Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig)-protected consultants and staff, and accelerate the discussions of the remaining items in their agenda.
Dureza added there would be possible enhancements of the previously-signed agreements since these were signed many years ago.
These agreements include the 1992 The Hague Joint Declaration, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed in 1998, and the 1995 Jasig.
As to the Jasig list, the NDFP came prepared with lists of included individuals.
NDFP’s original JASIG list could no longer be opened when diskettes containing pass keys were corrupted following a raid by the Dutch police of its international office in Utrecht in August 2007.
Dureza said there are two lists: one containing 54 publicly-known figures and the other list containing 87 using aliases who are still out there on the field.
Dureza added that the NDFP has three months to complete their list, including photographing the individuals for verification procedures when needed.
On the acceleration of the peace negotiations, Dureza said both parties have yet to talk about the exact timeline. “It (the peace talks) may still reach a year,” he said.
“So far so good sa three points namin. Successful na. But we still have a long way to go,” Dureza said.
Dureza said the light atmosphere in the talks has contributed to the swift agreement on important issues.
“With the kind of ambience on both sides, I don’t think there would be big obstacles. Parang maganda ‘yung usapan across the table,” Dureza said.
Dureza described the arrival of the six additional NDFP consultants from Manila before the parties took their lunch break as “electric” that added positivism to the negotiations.
Concha Araneta-Bocala, Randy Malayao, Kennedy Bangibang, Alfredo Mapano, Ariel Arbitrario, and Eduardo Genelsa only arrived on the second day of the talks due to complications in the processing of their travel documents.
“When they embraced after not having seen each other for a long time, it was not only warm. It was touching,” Dureza said.
NDFP panel vice-chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said GRP’s release of their consultants showed its political will to comply with its commitments.
He also agreed with Dureza that both parties have committed to exert their best effort to craft an agreement on the next substantive agenda—socio-economic reforms within six months.
To hasten the discussions, Agcaoili said they put up subcommittees on land reform and rural development, national industrialization, rights of workings peoples, and others under the reciprocal working committee on socio-economic reforms.
Agcaoili also said that both parties have convened their respective working groups on political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces to enable them to form reciprocal working committees immediately after a comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms has been signed.
Dureza said they hope to end the ongoing negotiations by midday of Friday, August 26.