NOORDWIJK AAN ZEE, The Netherlands — On the second day of the fourth round of the formal talks, a small group discussion of the negotiating panels from both sides of the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines lasted about 10 minutes before the panel returned on the table to discuss on the issue of ceasefire.
GRP peace panel member Hernani Braganza told reporters in an interview Tuesday, Apr. 4 said both Parties agreed that “a ceasefire is not enough.”
“We have to root out the causes of the armed conflict, yung armadong labanan sa kanayunan (the armed conflict in the countryside),” he said.
NDFP senior adviser Luis Jalandoni said when the two parties sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement, the agreement on Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) will also be signed. The two parties will also settle on the releases of political prisoners.
NDFP peace panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili noted that “ceasefires are just a means to an end” whether it is unilateral or bilateral.
“Its main purpose is to create conditions conducive to reaching agreements on basic reforms that are satisfactory to both sides,” he said.
Braganza added that “hopefully it will end up on how The Hague Declaration was crafted.”
The four substantive agenda of the peace process according to The Hague Declaration comprised of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, CASER, Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms and End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces.
Braganza said both Parties also agreed on the importance of testing the agreements in terms of implementing the reforms.
Prior informal talks
Prior to the formal session, among those in the meeting at the bar inside the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel at around 10:00 am Netherlands time (4 pm Philippine time) were Agcaoili, peace panel member Benito Tiamzon, senior adviser Luis Jalandoni and NDFP ceasefire committee consultant chairperson Wilma Tiamzon, GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III, peace panel members Atty. Rene Sarmiento, Atty. Antonio Arellano, Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad and Braganza.
Informal talks between the government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines continued to play a crucial role in the negotiations.
“It’s important, of course we go back to the negotiating table to hammer out the actual agreement,” Braganza said.
He said it is important for both sides to clarify issues so that when they go back to the negotiating table, it will be easier to have an agreement.
“Both sides are exhibiting desire to move forward and bring about the addressing the roots of the armed conflict,” Jalandoni said.
He added, “(L)ahat yan advancement towards ending the hostilities and rooting out the causes of the armed conflict.”
Braganza said that “technically” there was no delay in the peace talks as the Parties are “still in the framework of the agreed schedules of the process.”
“If you are referring to what happened on the first day, we would like to clarify, from both Parties, how to proceed, to set the agenda. When it was set, the talks were moving smoothly already,” he said.
The formal opening of the talks was postponed twice. The NDFP in a statement on Monday said the first postponement was “to give the GRP panel time for internal caucus.” The second one was for the two Parties to “hold informal discussions on a bilateral interim ceasefire agreement.”
The fourth round of talks should have opened Sunday morning, as agreed upon in the Rome talks last January and affirmed in the 11 March 2017 Utrecht Joint Statement. (davaotoday.com)