By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
MANILA — The peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) may resume in September.
The NDFP said they have agreed to continue the peace negotiations with the Rodrigo Duterte government after listening to the GRP Panel’s explanation for the postponement of the resumption of the formal talks.
The group said a GRP team led by panel member Hernani Braganza travelled to Utrect, The Netherlands on June 18 to 20 to personally explain GRP’s cancellation of the June 28 resumption of formal negotiations.
In a separate statement, Braganza said they told the NDFP that Duterte wished for a three-month review of the documents forged during the backchannel talks.
No further explanation was given by the parties.
The NDFP and the GRP said the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) attended the meetings as Third Party Facilitator (TPF).
The NDFP said the meeting did not immediately start because they had to clarify the role of the RNG following presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s statement a TPF to the talks may no longer be necessary.
“The role of the TPF is of key importance while there is need to hold formal peace negotiations in a foreign neutral venue in compliance with the pertinent provision in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees,” the NDFP said.
The group added that the parties’ agreements in the backchannel talks are binding.
“The agreements reached in the four rounds of informal talks in March, April, May and June 2018, remain valid and have the effect of continuing the peace negotiations under the direction of the principals and reaffirmation of previous agreements,” the NDFP said.
The GRP for its part said the agreements still include the planned visit of NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison to the Philippines.