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Migrants ready for NDFP-GRP talks in Rome; negotiations to focus on socio-econ reforms

MIGRANT FILIPINOS in Italy are ready for the third round of formal negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) this week.

As the venue of the peace talks shifts to the ancient city of Rome on January 19 to 25, migrant organizations are taking the opportunity to express support to the negotiations by organizing a rally and forum midway through the round on January 22.

Various Migrante International chapters and other Filipino organizations throughout Italy would be attending a rally supporting the peace talks, including Migrante-Milan, Migrante-Bologna, Kapitbisig Migrante-Milan, Migrante –Mantova, Migrante- Caserta, Migrante-Firenze, Gabriela-Rome, Italo-Filipino Friendship Association, and the International Committee on Human Rights in the Philippines.

Italians and other nationalities are also expected to attend the rally to be held at Rome’s Plaza Esquilino from nine to 11 in the morning, the organizers said.

“The event would be to support the peace talks here in Rome and to show to both the GRP and the NDFP panels our interest in the progress of their negotiations,” Umangat Migrante coordinator and Gabriela Rome founder Weng Flores said.

Flores said many fellow migrants expressed delight when they found out that the third round of talks would be held in Rome

Both the GRP and the NDFP asked the Royal Norwegian Government to facilitate the third round of talks in Italy as Norway was deemed to be too cold for many negotiators during winter.

Peace forum

After the morning rally, migrants will hold a peace forum organized by the Sentro Pilipino Socio-Cultural Committee and Umangat-Migrante in the afternoon.

Both the NDFP and the GRP are invited to send speakers to the forum.

“It would be an opportunity for both parties to explain why the peace talks are important to migrants like us.  We hope they could explain to us what the NDFP’s agenda are and the GRP’s response to them,” Flores said.

“More importantly, we wish to be informed of our role in the process and the solutions they have regarding labor migration,” she added.

Another peace forum shall be held in Milan in northern Italy on January 28, three days after the scheduled conclusion of the formal negotiations on the 25th.

The forums follow a similar event held in Rome last November attended by NDFP Negotiating Panel member Coni Ledesma and senior adviser Luis Jalandoni.

Flores said more of their compatriots and friends in Italy have become interested in the peace process.

Focus on socio-economic reforms

Meanwhile, both the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels said they are ready for the start of the formal talks on Thursday which will focus on socio economic reforms.

“We are all set and ready to engage the NDF in the discussion of all substantive agenda, including supplemental agreements needed to proceed and arrive at a peaceful negotiated political settlement to end the armed conflict in the country,” GRP Negotiating Panel chairperson Silvestre Bello III said.

The GRP is set to fly to Rome Monday evening.

The NDFP for its part said they agreed with the GRP proposal that the third round of talks would focus on the socio-economic substantive agenda.

“We agreed to GRP’s suggestion to the Royal Norwegian Government that we focus on socio-economic reforms (SER) on this round because this is the meat of the peace talks,” NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili said both parties agreed to spend three days negotiating on SER and one day on political and constitutional reforms, the Joint Monitoring Committee and other issues. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)