Members of the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace panels pose for a photo op together with the officials of the Royal Norwegian Government hosting the fifth round of talks at the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel in Noordwijk Aan Zee in the Netherlands on Saturday evening, May 27 (around 12 am PHT, May 28).  (Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The National Democratic Front of the Philippines reiterated its position that the most conducive environment for the peace negotiations with the government will be provided by discussing social and economic reforms. The NDFP also reiterated its call for the release of political prisoner.

“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. The enabling environment most conducive to the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations is the buckling down to work in crafting a comprehensive agreement on substantial socioeconomic reforms that will benefit the Filipino people,” ​said Alan Jazmines, vice chairperson of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee for Social-Economic Reforms in a statement on Friday, July 14.

​He said another conducive environment would be government’s adherence to human rights and international humanitarian laws “including the release of all political prisoners, as promised by the Duterte government”. ​

The Philippine government and the NDFP are scheduled to hold an informal meeting of the third week of this month in preparation for the possible resumption of the fifth round of formal talks in August. GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III previously announced that the formal talks would probably resume on the second or third week of the next month.

Jazmines said they are looking forward to the bilateral teams’ meeting which aims to come up with a tentative common draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) in order to accelerate negotiations and complete the latter by the first quarter of 2018.

The bilateral teams were set up to accelerate the negotiations on social and economic reforms in between the formal talks. CASER is the second substantive agenda on the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. The remaining two agendas are the political and constitutional reforms and the end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

During the previous round of talks, the parties have agreed in principle for free land distribution.

Jazmines said there is urgency to discuss and come up with an agreement on agrarian reform and rural development. He said that in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, Hacienda Roxas in Batangas, Central Luzon, Negros, the Cordillera, and Mindanao, farmers continue to engage in land struggles to defend their right to the land they are tilling.

“The achievement of the third round of the peace talks, the agreement on the principle of free land distribution by the NDFP and the GPH, will amount to nothing unless it is followed up by more concrete and substantive agreements,” he said.

Jazmines added that the Parties have “already wasted so much time.”

“We expect that there will be no more delays. We have done our assignment and will bring to the table concrete proposals on agrarian reform and rural development, national industrialization, protection of the environment. This is a clear path to take for a just and lasting peace,” Jazmines said.

The fifth round of talks was suspended after the government refused to participate, citing lack of conducive environment for the talks to proceed. The government pointed out a statement of the Communist Party of the Philippines that it accelerate and intensify its attacks against the government amid the declaration of Martial Law.

In a press briefing in Malacanang on July 11, Presidential Adviser Jesus Dureza said back channel talks will happen, although the date and venue are still undetermined. (

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