Peace talks with Reds under Duterte presidency

>> Monday, July 4, 2016


Peace talks to end the communist insurgency, the longest running in the region, which had claimed more than 40,000 lives has taken a positive note with the assumption of Rodrigo Duterte as president of the Republic of the Philippines.
Communist rebels have been waging an armed struggle against the government since the late 1960s.This time, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said the inauguration of Rodrigo brought with it great anticipation for advancing peace negotiations to address the Filipino people's aspirations for national freedom, social justice and democratic empowerment.
"The positive outcome of preliminary talks last June 14-15 boosts the anticipation of the Filipino people for accelerated progress in peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Philippine government under Duterte," said the CPP in a statement.
"The CPP welcomes the declared intention of the incoming Duterte government to immediately release at least 18 peace consultants of the NDFP who are among the 546 political prisoners unjustly detained by the Aquino regime. The CPP congratulates participants in the on-going People's Summit who are set to consolidate a comprehensive agenda of the most urgent concerns of the most oppressed and exploited sectors of Philippine society."
"They expect the Duterte regime to heed the people's clamor for land reform and social justice, jobs and just wages and other pressing demands," said the
CPP. "The CPP anticipates that such an agenda will also be submitted to the NDFP
in order to pursue it in peace negotiations with the GPH."
"The first few days and weeks of the Duterte regime will surely be characterized
by heightened expectations of the Filipino people who are highly desirous of
rapid and substantial changes," said the CPP. "They hope to see policy U-turns
especially those which address the social conditions of the people and the state
of Philippine national freedom."
After a 12-year hiatus, the government and the NDF have agreed to return to the negotiating table to resume peace talks, an incoming government negotiator announced yesterday.
Silvestre Bello III, who has been named government chief negotiator for the peace talks with the NDF, has set July 16 to 19 as the start of formal peace negotiations.
Bello said the venue of the talks was not yet determined although Vietnam, China, India and Oslo in Norway are being considered.
The initial issues, he added, would include the release of 21 rebel consultants and security personnel who are detained in various prison facilities for no-bail offenses. 
He explained that a temporary release could be initiated by the Department of Justice, in coordination with the Supreme Court, so the safe conduct passes can be issued and consultants can participate in peace talks. 
Earlier, NDF negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said rebels who are serving as peace consultants should be freed because it is a government obligation under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed in 1995.
Bello said the release of rebel leaders would be temporary. 
Negotiations between the government and the NDF hit a snag after both sides failed to reach a consensus on jailed rebel leaders.  The NDF had demanded the release of rebels charged with criminal cases, saying they are working as peace consultants and should, therefore, be immune from arrest. 

The government panel, however, rejected the demand, saying there is no way to validate the identities of the rebels who are supposed to be covered by the JASIG, especially those using aliases. Peace talks could address all these issues.  


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