Peace talks with Muslim rebels resume
[Photo of Moro Islamic Liberation Front flag.]
MANILA – The Philippine government is looking forward for the resumption of the stalled peace talks with communist rebels with the formation of a new peace panel and with Norway’s acceptance to remain as third-party facilitator.
“We are grateful to the Royal Norwegian Government for accepting our request for Norway to resume its role as third-party facilitator of the peace talks,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Q. Deles told a press conference in Malacanang Palace on Thursday.
At the same time, Deles announced the formal reconstitution of the government peace panel headed by Health Undersecretary Alex Padilla that will negotiate with the Communist Party of the Philippinmes-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP/NPA/NDF).
”With the formal reconstitution of the peace panel, we hope that the CPP-NPA-NDF will respond positively to government’s peace efforts by returning to the negotiating table with commitment towards a peaceful conclusion of the armed conflict,” she said.
President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III has approved the composition of the new peace panel, Deles said.
The other members of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) peace panel are Ednar Gempasaw Dayanghiran, a strong advocate for the welfare and rights of indigenous peoples based in Davao; Lawyer Pablito Sanidad, a seasoned public servant, and justice and human rights promoter particularly for marginalized sectors based in Baguio City; Jurgette Honcluda, a leading gender and labor rights advocate and organizer based in Zamboanga City; and Maria Lourdes Tison, a staunch peace and environmental advocate from the private sector from Negros.
Deles said the designation of Padilla as chief negotiator is expected to reopening of the stalled peace talks which bogged down in 2005 after the United States tagged the NPA as a terrorist group.
The resumption of peace talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF will discuss the remaining substantive agenda on socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces and forge a final political settlement of the decades-old armed conflict, she said.
”The journey to peace will not be easy. As fellow peace travelers, we appeal for your support, participation and understanding,” Deles added.
Peace talks with the communist rebels have been off-and-on the past years.
Aside from the CPP/NPA/NDF, the government is also preparing for the resumption of the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) soon.
Formal peace talks with the Muslim rebels reopened on Dec. 8, 2009 after negotiations broke down on Aug. 4, 2008 following the non-signing of the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) which was declared by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.
However, during the period when the talks were in limbo, the Philippine government and MILF continued their back-door negotiations.