“We cannot achieve this successful and very significant step forward in the peace negotiations without the strong commitment of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the spirit of goodwill and friendliness of our counterparts…”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – The first round of formal peace talks between the Duterte administration and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) ended today, Aug. 26 (6:30 p.m. Manila time) in Oslo, Norway with both parties agreeing on several points.
The negotiating panels of both parties signed the “Joint Statement on the Resumption of the Formal Peace Talks in the Peace Negotiations” at the Saga Hall of the Scandic Holmenkollen Park Hotel.
Both parties reaffirmed previously signed agreements. These include The Hague Joint Declaration, the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig), among others.
The GRP has also agreed for the NDFP to reconstitute its list of Jasig-protected individuals or those who should be given safety and immunity guarantees.
The 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.
The new list contains 54 publicly known figures and 87 aliases.
Both parties also agreed to hasten the peace process and set the timeline for the completion of the remaining substantive agenda for the talks. These include: socio-economic reforms; political and constitutional reforms; and end of hostilities and disposition of forces.
In particular, the reciprocal working committees on socio-economic reforms will strive to finish their work within six months.
Working groups on other substantive agenda have set their respective agenda, mechanics and timeline of their work.
Both parties agreed to reconvene the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) for the implementation of CARHRIHL.
Release of political prisoners
The NDFP thanked President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for fulfilling his promise to order the release of its consultants in pursuit of peace.
The NDFP said it looks forward to the release of prisoners who are sick, elderly, overly long detained and women based on humanitarian grounds.
The GRP panel agreed to recommend to Duterte the issuance of an amnesty proclamation, subject to concurrence of Congress. The amnesty will cover political prisoners who are listed by the NDFP and who have been arrested, imprisoned, charged, and/or convicted for alleged acts or omissions within the ambit of the Revised Penal Code or special laws in connection with alleged crimes in pursuit of one’s political beliefs.
Upon the end of the ceasefire order on August 27, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NDFP will issue an indefinite unilateral ceasefire order to the New People’s Army (NPA) and the people’s militia.
Both parties agreed to work through their respective ceasefire committees to reconcile and develop their separate unilateral ceasefire orders into a single unified bilateral document within 60 days from today.
Such ceasefire agreement will be considered interim in relation to the outcomes of negotiations leading to a Comprehensive Agreement on End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces.
In his closing statement, Luis Jalandoni, chairperson of the NDFP peace panel said, “We cannot achieve this successful and very significant step forward in the peace negotiations without the strong commitment of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the spirit of goodwill and friendliness of our counterparts: the GRP Negotiating Panel, its Chairperson Silvestre H. Bello, the panel members and other members of their delegation.”
The next round of formal talks is scheduled on October 8 to Oct. 12, 2016 in Oslo, Norway.