OSLO, Norway – It  seems easy but it’s not.

This was how Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza described the ongoing peace negotiations upon his arrival at the Holmenfjord Hotell here Thursday for the scheduled second round of talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

“If it was easy, it should have been done long before,” he said.

The Maoist-led movement has been waging an armed struggle against the government since the re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines in 1968.

Under the present government, President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to pursue peace talks with the NDF.

No expectations

Dureza said he has no expectations but added that he is positive with the attendance of the delegation from the House of Representatives.

“What’s good now is we have the delegation coming from the House of Representatives in the same manner nung ating ginawa sa Bangsamoro in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez joined the launching of the Implementing Phase of the Bangsamoro Peace Agreements in August.

Dureza said the House of Representatives will play a vital role on the outcome of the peace negotiations by providing the implementing mechanism.

“This is not easy, let’s manage our expectations but we will do our best,” he said.  Six lawmakers, most of whom are officers and members of the Peace and Reconciliation committee will join the peace talks as observers.

The House delegation is led by Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra A. Sema, Chairman of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee Rep. Ruby Sahali, Senior Vice Chairman Rep. Jesus Sacdalan, Vice Chairman and Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate, member Rep. Nancy Catamco who is also the chairman of the committee on indigenous and cultural communities, and member Rep. Leopoldo Bataouil who also serves as the chairman of the veterans affairs committee.

New NDF chief negotiator

Dureza also welcomed the new composition of the NDF negotiating panel.

He said there is not much difference between now NDF senior adviser Luis Jalandoni and the new chairman of the NDF panel, Fidel Agcaoili.

“Ang kaibahan lang si Fidel eh, masyadong go-go at bata ng konti, konti lang kesa kay Ka Louie (The only difference is Fidel is a ‘go-go’ kind of guy and a little bit younger than Comrade Louie),” he said.

Dureza also welcomed NDF peace panel member Benito Tiamzon who he described of having a vital role in the peace negotiations because of his experience in revolutionary work.

On Thursday, the second round of talks between the GRP and NDFP will formally open 6:00 in the evening (12:00 midnight October 7, PH time).

Both parties will discuss the agreement on social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces. The general amnesty proclamation for political prisoners and the bilateral ceasefire agreement will also be tackled during the five-day talks on October 6 to October 10. (davaotoday.com)

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