NDFP and Duterte peace teams begin informal meet

QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES—The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s negotiating teams expressed optimism at the start of their three-day preliminary talks in Oslo, Norway yesterday, an observer to the meeting said.

Incoming Anakpawis representative Ariel Casilao said both parties are optimistic in resuming the formal talks slated next month after Duterte is sworn into office.   

Duterte sent incoming Presidential Adviser on the Process Jesus Dureza, incoming Department of Labor and Employment and concurrent chairperson of the Duterte government peace panel with the NDFP Silvestre Bello III and former Department of Agrarian Reform secretary Hernani Braganza to Oslo to “work for the early resumption of the stalled peace negotiations with the NDFP.”

They were joined by long-time Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel staff Carla Munsayac-Villarta.

The NDFP for its part sent nearly its full complement of negotiators which include chairperson Luis Jalandoni; members Juliet de Lima, Fidel Agcaoili, and Coni Ledesma; chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison; and a battery of consultants and legal advisors.

“Both parties conveyed their gratitude to the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) for hosting the informal talks,” Casilao said.

“Norway remains committed to the peace process between the Philippine Government and the NDFP as third-party facilitator,” RNG special envoy to the Philippine peace process Elisabeth Slåttum said .

Meeting at the famed skiing district of Holmenkollen in uptown Oslo, the Duterte peace team and the NDFP are set to discuss proposals to fast track the negotiations.

“The NDFP turned over to the ‘GPH panel’ three draft documents,” Casilao said.

A Kodao source said that the NDFP was ready with an initial draft of its Oslo Joint Declaration with incoming Duterte administration and a draft interim ceasefire agreement.

The NDFP said plans to release political prisoners through a general amnesty came from Duterte himself.

“(The teams) with discuss their comments, proposals, revisions, amendments, and reply or rejoinder (to the drafts), tomorrow (today in Manila),” Casilao said. (Raymund B. Villanueva)