Agrarian reform deal ready for NDFP-GRP approval

A common draft on agrarian reform is ready for approval by The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) after three days of bilateral discussions by the parties’ reciprocal working committees on socio-economic reforms over the weekend.

NDFP peace consultant Allan Jazmines told a peace forum yesterday the parties met from Saturday to Monday to finalize a common draft on agrarian reform for approval by the parties when formal peace negotiations resume next month.

“The GRP committee responded positively to the NDFP committee’s draft and both worked on enhancing and polishing the document,” Jazmines said.

“When formal talks resume sometime next month, it should be ready for initializing by the NDFP and GRP panels,” he added.

Jazmines said that since agrarian reform is only a part of the prospective Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, the document would only be “initialled” by the parties.

The NDFP and GRP announced their agreement to free land distribution to farmers during their third round of formal talks in Rome, Italy last January.

“Once initialled, the parties may already start implementing agrarian reform programs, such as the legislation of a genuine agrarian reform law by the GRP,” he added.

The working committees are now ready to move on to the rural development, national industrialization and economic development, social services and environmental protection agenda, Jazmines said.

“It may even be proposed that another meeting by the working committees should be held later this month,” he said.

GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III did not make it to the forum after failing to get an early flight from Mindanao.

Bello attended an emergency meeting in Davao City Monday night, the Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum, organizers of the event, said.

5th round in Oslo

Jazmines said the fifth round of formal negotiations may be held from mid-August.

“There are no exact dates yet. We will know after panel members from both sides would meet later this month to finalize the details with the Royal Norwegian Government,” he said.

Jazmines said the next round would focus on the other items in the social and economic reforms agenda, as well as constitutional and political reforms.

“The parties are also expected to thresh out issues that led to the temporary suspension of formal negotiations,” he added.

Jazmines said the GRP may again propose the inclusion of ceasefire declarations in the agenda.

The NDFP for its part may also propose discussions on the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in relation to reported plans by GRP President Rodrigo Duterte to extend his martial law declaration in Mindanao to the end of the year, Jazmines said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva / Photo from Ruben Manahan III’s Facebook page)