GRP completes panel lineup

MANILA—The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) has completed its peace panel in time for the anticipated resumption for formal talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) later this month, its chief negotiator in an interview said.

GRP negotiating panel chief and Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello said they have completed their negotiating team with the addition of two lawyers who will represent marginalized sectors.

“Now we have Atty. Angela Librado, who will represent the women sector,  and Atty. Noel Felongco who will represent the indigenous peoples,” Bello said.  Read more

Bello on moving forward with the peace talks

CHIEF government negotiator Silvestre Bello III speaks about their impending resumption of formal talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

In this video, Bello warns about ‘enemies of peace’ who may attempt to derail the talks to embarrass President Rodrigo Duterte. He also mentions those who have ideological disputes with the NDFP, war hawks and those with ‘distorted’ political agenda as groups that do not want the formal peace negotiations to succeed.

Watch the full video on the prospects of the GRP-NDFP peace talks. (Interview by Raymund Villanueva / Video by Pom Cahilog-Villanueva)

No contradiction in safe conduct pass for NDFP consultants–Bello

MANILA—The government’s chief negotiator does not see contradictions between earlier announced plans to release National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants and President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent statement that he will only issue them safe conduct passes.

In his speech at the Philippine Air Force anniversary celebrations last July 5, Duterte said he “…is not ready to release everybody” but will only issue safe conduct passes for NDFP consultants Jose Maria Sison, Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria and NDFP panel chairperson Luis Jalandoni.

In May, NDFP spokesperson and peace panel member Fidel Agcaoili announced that Duterte told him he plans on issuing a general amnesty order for all political prisoners, numbering more than 500. Read more

GPH, NDFP mull rescheduling talks

THE RESUMPTION of formal peace negotiations between the Rodrigo Duterte government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) may be rescheduled to later dates.

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said the formal Oslo talks originally scheduled on the third week of this month may be adjusted to either July 27 to August 2 or the 15th to the 17th of next month to give time to the Government of the Philippines (GPH) to effect the releases of political prisoners.

In an interview, Sison said the NDFP is prepared to engage the GPH in peace negotiations on the assumption that previous signed statements are affirmed and 109 political prisoners are released ahead of more than 400 others.

Twenty two of the 109 detainees are NDFP consultants and staff to the peace process while the remaining 87 are “sickly, elderly, overly long-term and women political prisoners.”

President Duterte, however, said in his speech at the Philippine Air Force anniversary celebration last July 5 he is only willing to give NDFP consultants and alleged Communist Party of the Philippines top leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, among others, safe conduct passes to participate in the talks.

Here is Kodao Productions’ interview with NDFP’s Sison:

1.  How sure is the NDFP that Pres. Duterte would fulfill his earlier promises that he will release a) all political prisoners, or b) just the JASIG (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) holders and the sick, elderly, long-held detainees first?

Jose Maria Sison: Despite any apparently self-contradictory impromptu statements from President Duterte himself, the NDFP is prepared to engage in peace negotiations with the GPH on the assumption that the previous agreements shall be affirmed and that 22 JASIG-protected political prisoners and the 87 sickly, elderly, overly long-term and women political prisoners will be released ahead of more than 400 political prisoners who shall be released by general amnesty in connection with an interim ceasefire. In the course of the peace negotiations, the GPH position under the Duterte government will unfold and the NDFP will respond accordingly. The pace and outcome of the negotiations will be determined by the willingness of the negotiating parties to satisfy the demand of the people for full independence, democracy, social justice and all-round development. Any presumption that the NDFP can be bamboozled into submission is false. It has long experience in waging armed and other forms of struggle.

2.  Will the NDFP still be willing to resume the formal talks in two weeks’ time if Pres. Duterte will only issue a safe conduct pass for Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria-Tiamzon? Why/Why not?

JMS: The NDFP has already informed the GPH side that the resumption of formal talks may be either from July 27 to August 2 or from August 15 to 22, depending on the success of the GPH at effecting the release of the 22 JASIG-protected political prisoners as well as that of most of the 87 political prisoners who are sickly, elderly, overly long in prison and women. The NDFP is willing to give the GPH ample time to effect the releases.

(Note:  The July 27-August 2 date is actually a proposal from the newly-constituted GPH Negotiating Panel, Sison told Kodao.)

3.  What can you say about President Duterte’s statement at the PAF anniversary celebrations, particularly the following: “”Good that we are talking to the Communist Party of the Philippines. It’s doing well and we hope to have a firm agreement by the end of the year if Sison would come home. I am ready to give him a safe conduct pass. And ‘yung Tiamzon spouses pati si Jalandoni. I am not ready to release everybody. Only after the success of the talks, if there’s one coming our way bago ko sila i-release, now we can grant amnesty but they have to lay down their arms.”

JMS: In his speech before the Philippine Air Force generals, President Duterte did not find it necessary to explain the release of current political prisoners by general amnesty in connection with the interim ceasefire agreement. Quite a number of people who do not seriously study the substantive agenda of the GPH-NDFP gloss over the fact that the last item is the making of a Comprehensive Agreement on the End of Hostilities and Disposition of Forces. This agreement will involve amnesty of the leaders, commanders and combatants of both conflicting parties. The interim ceasefire is a preparation for the final ceasefire at the end of the entire peace negotiations.

4.  What should peace advocates and the Filipino people do to support the resumption of the formal talks later this month?

JMS: The Filipino people and the patriotic and progressive forces should persevere in calling for the release of all the political prisoners and for the resumption of the peace negotiations.  #

(Raymund B. Villanueva)


Jalandoni: Incoming Duterte gov’t showing firm commitment

In their two-day exploratory talks in Oslo, Norway last June 15-16, the incoming Rodrigo Duterte administration of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) signed a Joint Statement where both parties agreed to resume formal talks on the third week of July.

In this interview, NDFP negotiating panel chairperson Luis Jalandoni answers questions on some details of the statement, their preparations for the resumption of the fomal negotiations, the creation of wider support to the talks, and fears that the negotiations may be discredited by parties opposed to the incoming Duterte government’s alliance with the Left.  Read more

STREETWISE:Peace Talks 101

By Carol P. Araullo

The significance of peace talks resumption between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the revolutionary umbrella organization that includes the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), is not as easy to appreciate and be enthused about as one would think. The subject matter is complex and its prolonged history full of twists and turns. Many times, optimistic rhetoric has given way to recrimination and impasses. Read more

Groups, churches laud success of Oslo talks

CHURCHES, peace and human rights groups lauded the resumption of formal peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the incoming Duterte administration of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) in July.

Hundreds gathered at the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral in Quezon City yesterday for a series of activities that also celebrated the release of two political detainees last Wednesday. Read more

The Significance of the June 14-15 Preliminary Talks in Oslo


by Rey Claro Casambre

Philippine Peace Center

Regardless of its outcome,  by the mere fact of its being held, the preliminary or exploratory talks in Oslo between the incoming GPH peace negotiating panel and the NDFP panel last June 14-15 has already earned a distinction of its own in the long history of the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations. Read more

Duterte, NDFP peace teams agree to resume formal talks

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s peace team agreed to resume formal negotiations next month with a historic joint statement last night in Oslo, Norway (1 am, Manila time).

In a successful conclusion to their two-day exploratory talks, both parties also agreed to discuss in their formal negotiations the affirmation of previously-signed agreements, accelerated process for the negotiations, reconstitution of the NDFP list of Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG)-protected personnel, amnesty proclamation of all political prisoners, and mode of interim ceasefire.  Read more