BREAKING: GRP-NDFP agree to resume talks, forge bilateral ceasefire

THE Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) have agreed to hold the fourth round of formal peace negotiations as scheduled on the first week of April.

In a joint statement read by Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Elisabeth Slattum, both parties said their two-day informal talks also agreed to forge a bilateral ceasefire agreement and reiterate their reaffirmation of all previously signed agreements.

The GRP also agreed to release NDFP consultant Ariel Arbitrario who was rearrested in Davao City last February 6 along with fellow consultants Eduardo Sarmiento, Emeterio Antalan, Leopoldo Caloza and Edgardo Friginal who are detained at the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.

The government also committed to release 19 ailing political prisoners on or before the fourth round of formal talks in Oslo, Norway.

In the meantime, both parties agreed to reinstate their respective unilateral ceasefire declarations as soon as their armed forces have been duly informed.

The informal talks held at the Grand Hotel Karel V in Utrecht, The Netherlands last Friday and Saturday put back on track formal peace negotiations cancelled by GRP President Rodrigo Duterte last February 4. # (Raymund B. Villanueva / Photo courtesy of NDFP)

= = = =

The GRP-NDFP Joint Statement

March 11, 2017

We, representatives from the GRP Negotiating Panel and the NDFP Negotiating Panel held informal talks on 10-11 March 2017, in Utrecht, The Netherlands, with the Royal Norwegian Government acting as host and Third Party Facilitator, and agreed as follows:

  1. The Parties shall continue the formal peace talks and reiterate their reaffirmation of all bilateral agreements and statements made in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, including The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
  2. The Parties agree to forge an interim bilateral ceasefire agreement which shall take effect after the terms of reference and other considerations shall have been settled. In forging the interim bilateral ceasefire agreement, the Parties shall take due consideration of the issues and concerns raised by each Party in relation to the previous 6-month (August 2016 to February 2017) unilateral ceasefire of the other Party. In the meantime, the Parties agree to reinstate their respective unilateral ceasefires which shall take effect before the scheduled fourth round of talks in April 2017 as soon as their respective forces shall have been informed.
  3. In accordance with the reactivated JASIG and in order to ensure the continuous participation in the peace negotiations of the 19 NDFP consultants and staff who were released in August 2016, the GRP shall release a rearrested consultant, ensure the safety and liberty of all the consultants, as well as undertake the necessary measures including the extension or reinstatement of their bail, as the case may be, and other legal remedies to enable their free and unhindered movement.
  4. The GRP reiterates its commitment in the Rome Joint Statement of January 25, 2017 with respect to the release of NDFP consultants and political prisoners listed by the NDFP. The GRP shall ensure the participation of the four (4) detained consultants in the fourth round of the peace talks and thereafter. The GRP shall exert best efforts to release them before the start of the said round. The GRP shall also work for the release of nineteen (19) political prisoners based on humanitarian or other grounds on or before the said round of talks.
  5. The Parties have scheduled the deposit and safekeeping of the reconstituted list and pictures of JASIG holders of NDFP documents of identification on March 14, 2017, pursuant to the agreement on Additional Implementing Rules Pertaining to the Documents of Identification dated June 26, 1996.
  6. The fourth round of the formal peace talks shall be held in the first week of April 2017 while the fifth round shall be held in June 2017.

Signed in Utrecht, The Netherlands, 11 March 2017.

Sec. Silvestre H. Bello III
Chairperson of the GRP Panel
Fidel V. Agcaoili
Chairperson of the NDFP Panel
Hernani A. Braganza
Member, GRP Panel
Benito E. Tiamzon
Member, NDFP Panel


Sec. Jesus G. Dureza
GRP Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Prof. Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
Atty. Efren C. Moncupa Wilma Austria Tiamzon
Chairperson, NDFP RWG-EHDF
Franciso J. Lara, Jr. Vicente P. Ladlad
NDFP Political Consultant

Elisabeth Slattum
Third Party Facilitator
For the Royal Norwegian Government