DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Having stayed the scheduled resumption of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front supposed to happen on June 15, President Rodrigo Duterte changed tone and wanted the negotiations to continue in the Philippines.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told a Palace briefing that since the talks involved Filipinos, therefore the talks should be held in the Philippines.
“There is no need to go to another country to talk about peace only,” Roque said.
He said there was a need to maximize the resources and funds for the CPP-NPA’s need rather than spending it outside the country. Duterte has assured the NDFP and their negotiators that they can select a place of temporary refuge while the talks were continuing and that government would shoulder all the expenses on food and other need.
Roque said the government would no longer need a third party facilitator “since the venue is in the country and the talks will be facilitated by a panel who has the authority to fix the logistics”.
“Any party who wants to help and who has been involved in the process can help,” he added.
However, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza clarified that Norway will remain as the third party facilitator in the peace talks.
Affirming his presence in Oslo, Norway to attend an International Forum on Conflict Mediation, he expressed gratitude for the significant role Norway has played in the negotiations.
Dureza would also explain to the Norwegian government the cancellation of the scheduled resumption of peace talks.
In February 2004, the GRP-NDFP agreed on the role of a third-party facilitator in the peace talks. The agreement states that the third party facilitator has the function of facilitating the holding of talks between the two panels, attending informal talks, receiving updates on the talks proceedings and extending support as requested in the implementation of CARHRIHL through the Joint Monitoring Committee.
Norway has acted as facilitator in the peace negotiations between the government and the NDFP for the last 16 years.
The Royal Norwegian Government is also a formal facilitator of the peace talks between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Norway is also involved in around 20 countries or regions with conflict.
Meanwhile, Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison said that Duterte aims to kill the peace negotiations.
“Foreign neutral venue as mutually agreed upon in JASIG is the best. It is premature for the talks to be held in the Philippines. The NDFP negotiating panel and associated personnel will then be facing threats of violent attacks from peace spoilers and saboteurs and subject to military and police surveillance under Duterte’s command,” he said.
He blamed Duterte’s counter-insurgency campaign for the incidence of “fake surrenders, mass murders and create an environment for the nationwide declaration of Martial Law.”
“The NDFP would trust Duterte only if the CASER [Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms) which will benefit the farmers, workers, indigenous peoples, women and youth be signed and approved by both parties,” he said. (davaotoday.com)