Oslo, Norway. The Royal Norwegian Government praised both the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) for their preparations for the second round of formal peace negotiations in this city starting tomorrow.
Norwegian Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Elisabeth Slattum said she is very pleased with how both parties prepared for this round after their August 22 to 27 negotiations.
“It’s great. Both parties had very good meetings back in Manila,” Slattum said.
Slattum travelled to Manila last September 20 and 21 to facilitate the parties’ discussion on the possibility of revitalizing their Joint Monitoring Committee on human rights and international humanitarian law and bilateral ceasefire.
The GRP and NDFP peace panels are expected to approve the agreements reached in their two-day discussions hosted by the Norwegian embassy in Manila.
Slattum also expressed delight at the many peace forums both separately and jointly held by the parties all over the Philippines.
“The consultations and forums the GRP and the NDFP with various sectors and groups are very important so the people will feel ownership of the peace process,” Slattum said.
She cited the defeat of the Colombian peace deal which was narrowly rejected in a referendum last October 2 as a lesson. The RNG also facilitated the peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) held for many years in Cuba.
“It was frustrating. It shows the danger of subjecting a peace deal to a referendum when there are some groups opposing it. That is why the consultations held by the GRP and the NDFP are very important,” Slattum said.
Consulting the people
The GRP and NDFP held a rare joint forum attended by 500 students last September 13 at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila attended by the chairpersons of the GRP and NDFP peace panels, Silvestre Bello III and Luis Jalandoni, respectively.
The GRP also held several peace forums in Davao City and Butuan City, as well as a consultation with the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The NDFP for its part held peace forums in Baguio City, Panay, Davao, and Metro Manila.
Various church-based groups also organized peace forums in Mindanao and Metro Manila after the first round of talks here last August.
President Rodrigo Duterte met with Jalandoni and other NDFP panel members and consultants in Davao City and Malacanang Palace to assure them of his government’s commitment to the peace process.
Panel members Hernani Braganza and Rene Sarmiento said the GRP held meetings in preparation for the second round of talks while the NDFP held their own meetings in Utrecht, The Netherlands where its panel is based.
Slattum said she expects the second round of GRP and NDFP negotiations to be productive.
“There would be hard negotiations on various issues in the next five days but we hope for a productive round,” Slattum said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
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