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Norway drops peace gab role

As facilitator of talks between govt, NDF Norway, the third-party facilitator of the peace talks between the government and communist insurgents, has agreed that formal negotiations will be terminated, presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles said Wednesday. Deles said Norway also acknowledged that the special track initiated by the communist group had already been “killed” by the National Democratic Front. “In our discussion with our Norwegian facilitator [Ambassador Ture Lundh] last month when he was here in Manila, we mutually established that the NDF killed the special track that they had themselves proposed and that we are not going back to the regular track [formal peace negotiations] which is going nowhere,” Deles said. The formal peace talks have been stalled since February 2011, while the special track bogged down early this year. Deles said the “new approach” being formulated by the government “will offer a better chance” of bringing peace. Without giving any details, government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla said the new approach will be “time-bound and agenda-bound.” Padilla also reiterated the need for a ceasefire agreement. “They should put an end to the senseless violence they are inflicting on our people especially on innocent civilians,” he added. NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni accused the Aquino administration of “acting irresponsibly” in issuing “bellicose statements” on the termination of the peace negotiations. Jalandoni said that the 1995 Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees required that a written notice be given to terminate the peace negotiations. “No written notice of termination of the Jasig and the peace negotiations has been given by the government to the NDF,” Jalandoni said. But the government has always maintained that the agreement is no longer in effect. Jalandoni also rejected the government’s appeal for a ceasefire agreement, which he said was being used as a precondition for “the capitulation or surrender” of the NDF and the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army. Earlier, Padilla raised the possibility of pursuing “localized peace talks” instead, citing the disconnect between the communist leaders in Utrecht, where Jalandoni and CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison both live, and the NPA leaders in the Philippines. Earlier, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda dismissed the CPP-NDF-NPA as “a bandit group,” a description that stripped the rebels of their status as ideological fighters. In a statement Wednesday, the CPP and NPA said they were awaiting further recommendations from the NDF negotiating panel, and that they would respect the other agreements that it had signed, including the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, the Joint Declaration of The Hague, and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees. Padilla earlier said the government was fed up with the rebel demands to release all “political prisoners” and would terminate all talks with the NDF and explore the military’s approach of holding localized peace talks. The CPP described this as a publicity stunt on the part of the Aquino administration, and that the government was obligated to free its “consultants” who were detained. It also rejected localized peace talks. With Florante S. Solmerin
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