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Duterte team meets CPP in Norway

DAVAO CITY—Negotiators from the incoming Duterte administration and their counterparts from the communist rebels are optimistic that peace talks, stalled for four years under the Aquino administration, will be able to resume.

Informal peace talks, which continue today in Oslo, Norway, will tackle three agreements—on the release of the political prisoners, an interim ceasefire and a plan to accelerate the peace negotiations.

“Both sides agreed that since the government participants have not yet assumed office, the consensus points, if any, will be initialed for authentication purposes at the close of the informal talks and to be formalized soon after President-elect [Rodrigo] Duterte’s government has assumed office,” incoming presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza said  Wednesday.

Sitdown. Government peace negotiators led by incoming peace adviser Jesus Dureza, new chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III and former Rep. Hernani Braganza meet in Oslo, Norway with CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison, NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni and Norwegian facilitators at the start of a two-day exploratory discussion.
“There is evident shared optimism on both sides due to the declaration of President-Elect Rody Duterte to seek an early sustainable peace for the nation,” he added.

The informal talks, which started at 5 p.m.  Oslo Time on June 14, had incoming government negotiators Hernani Braganza and incoming Labor secretary Silvestre Bello III, Dureza, Norway’s special envoy to the Philippine peace process Elisabeth Slåttum, National Democratic Front negotiator Coni Ledesma, CPP founder Jose. Ma. Sison, NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni, and human rights lawyer Edre Olalia as representatives at the negotiating table.

Braganza in his Twitter account showed a picture of the government’s peace panel including Dureza and government chief negotiator for the NDF, Bello, as well as members of the CPP-NPA-NDF negotiating panel, including Sison and NDF official Luis Jalandoni, with the following text: “Till we meet again!”

Aside from Sison and Jalandoni, the NDF sent nearly a full complement of negotiators, including peace panel members Juliet de Lima, Fidel Agcaoili, and Ledesma, and a battery of consultants and legal advisors.

“We in the NDFP have been elated by the pledge of President Duterte to release all the political prisoners by general amnesty even before the start of formal talks if the preliminary talks prove to be successful. And we have expressed the willingness to achieve peace immediately in the form of a mutual interim ceasefire. We are ready to maintain the ceasefire and the peace while we carry out the plan to accelerate the peace negotiations,” Agcaoili said.

In an earlier press briefing, Agcaoili said a proposal for accelerating peace talks would be discussed.

While a coalition government may not be entirely possible at this stage, he added, a “government of national unity, peace and development” could be formed after the peace agreements are signed.

Only then would NDF leaders accept positions in the government, he added.

Sison had earlier asserted that the goal of the peace talks was to form a “coalition government” of the CPP and Duterte administration. This coalition would need to carry out “democratic reforms that would lead to national industrialization and genuine land reform.” But he said, “We are not asking for a switch to socialism.”

“What is in sight is a kind of coalition government that involves the participation of the Communist Party amidst other patriotic and progressive forces. It is a government of national unity, peace and development,” Sison said in a video message from Utretch.

“The question therefore arises whether the national democratic revolution can be completed in the absence of a people’s war,” he added.

Sison called for getting an “interim ceasefire in place, and further negotiations on the end of hostilities and redisposition of the armed forces of both sides.”

“Revolutionary armed units can become guards of the environment and the industries under conditions of peace and development. Integration of armed forces is permissible,” he said.

Sison said he was not calling for state-owned industries, but for national industrialization to be carried out largely under private Filipino ownership, with state sponsorship and protection.

Sison said that the CPP’s front organizations “must support the patriotic and progressive initiatives and measures undertaken [by the CPP] in an alliance with an otherwise fully reactionary government.”

The militant youth group Kabataan  on Wednesday  expressed optimism that the government and the NDF, which began the preliminary talks in Oslo, Norway, would yield substantial results.

“We have high hopes for the outcome of the ongoing preliminary peace talks in Oslo between the Philippine government and the NDF. This goodwill gesture marks the beginning of what we hope will be a conclusive and exhaustive negotiation that will finally usher in peace and healing in our country,” Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said. With Maricel V. Cruz

Topics: peace negotiations , duterte team , Rody Duterte , CPP norway , NDF , peace talks
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