OSLO, Norway (Updated as of 1:55 pm October 8, 2016 Oslo time)– Negotiators from the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines took a break noon time yesterday as the reciprocal working committee on the social and economic reforms differed in their outline.
Julie de Lima, chairperson of the NDF reciprocal working committee on social and economic reforms said the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) requested for the postponement of discussions on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) “for them to elaborate on their nine-point outcomes-based proposal.”
The GRP’s nine-point outcome lists poverty eradication, environment and climate justice, globally competitive economy, adequate and quality social services, reduced inequalities, peaceful rural communities, food security, living incomes, and gender equality and representation.
De Lima said “these issues are all addressed in more detail in the NDFP draft outline.”
The NDF said the government’s outline are “mere generalizations and fails to include details on how to achieve the outcomes.”
It said the outline “should be based on addressing the roots of the armed conflict while the GRP wants an outcomes-based outline.”
De Lima said the NDF’s draft “includes agrarian reform, national industrialization, environmental protection, environmental protection, rights of the working people, foreign economic and trade relations, and, monetary and fiscal policies.”
“The main purpose of the peace negotiations is to address the roots of the armed conflict which, among others, includes poverty, landlessness, joblessness, hunger, and inequality,” de Lima said.
She said “placing the outcome ahead in an outline of an agreement on social and economic reforms is like putting the cart before the horse.”
In a statement Saturday, October 8, GRP negotiator Hernani Braganza, supervising panel member for CASER said they are “prepared to wrap up work with the NDF within the six-month timeline agreed upon in Oslo last August.”
Braganza said they want the outcome “spelled out in the CASER.”
“We do not want to limit the discussions only on the root causes of poverty. We also want exhaustive discussions on how we, the GRP and the NDF, can agree on a shared view of the future for the Philippines,” Braganza said.
“We, in the GRP, remain committed to our goal of signing CASER within one year of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term of office. We are optimistic that our counterparts from the NDF share the same goal,” he said.
Both parties agreed to adopt the “preamble and declaration of principles” in the NDFP draft.
Productive 2nd day
Meanwhile, GRP panel chairperson and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III described the second day of the peace talks as “very productive”
“Our working committees, especially the committee on social and economic reforms have come up with a draft which after some evaluation, members of the committee especially the chair informed us that the draft of the NDF and the draft of the GRP have almost 75 percent consensus on several issues,” he said in an interview.
“So we are talking of only about 30 percent of the proposed agreement where there is contention,” Bello said.
CASER, which is described as the “heart and soul” of the peace negotiations is the second item in the substantive agenda of the peace negotiations after both parties approved the comprehensive agreement on human rights and the respect for international humanitarian law or the CARHRIHL.
But with the accelerated peace process under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, both parties agreed to discuss the remaining three agenda, including political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces simultaneously.
Both Parties also exchanged outlines and matrix on the political and constitutional reforms.
Renante Gamara, member of the reciprocal working group on political and constitutional reforms of the NDF said they were able to approve a common outline after more than 30 minutes.
“We formed a small group tasked to draft the recommended common outline to be approved by the whole RWG and then after more than 30 minutes we met again and there are instant results. Generally, there was no problem encountered except on the intended contents of the outline,” Gamara said.
He said both Parties agreed to flesh out what the contents of the common outline will be on January 27 next year.
Gamara said each party will hold unilateral meetings of their working groups in the Philippines.
He said political and constitutional reforms is important because it will detail the implementing mechanisms of the agreements including political reforms, judicial reforms, electoral reforms and security reforms.
The reciprocal working group on the end of hostilities and disposition of forces also met Friday with both Parties exchanging outlines. (davaotoday.com)