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Joma frustrated with Duterte’s postponement of talks

While National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili was diplomatic in expressing his disappointment, Jose Maria Sison expressed outright frustration over President Rodrigo Duterte’s postponement of the resumption of formal talks.

READ: Duterte postpones resumption of formal GRP-NDFP talks

In a statement after the Government of the Republic of the Philippines’s (GRP) Thursday, Sison said it is both disappointing and frustrating Duterte has unilaterally cancelled the scheduled start of the stand-down ceasefire on June 21 and the resumption of formal talks in the peace negotiations in Oslo a week later on June 28.

“The written agreements pertaining to the aforesaid scheduled events have been signed by no less than the respective chairpersons of the GRP and the NDFP negotiating panels, DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) Secretary Silvestre Bello and Fidel V. Agcaoili, and witnessed by the Royal Norwegian special envoy Ambasador Idun Tevdt on June 9,” Sison said.

In a press briefing in Malacañan Thursday, Dureza said the initial timeline both parties worked on had to be “necessarily adjusted” after Duterte instructed to government panel to “engage the bigger peace table, the general public.”

“Our peace efforts to succeed should have good support from the general public. Hence, it is necessary that all efforts must be exerted first to inform then engage them in the same way that the government engages the rebels in addressing the root causes of conflict,” Dureza explained.

Dureza’s announcement came after Duterte has said in his Independence Day speech last June 12 the talks shall happen sometime in mid-July, which Agcaoili suspects the GRP President has already decided upon even before meeting the GRP peace panel Wednesday.

In light of Duterte’s order to his negotiators to consult the wider public, Sison challenged the NDFP and GRP panels to divulge the results of four backchannel talks since March.

“I urge the two negotiating panels to release to the public and to the press the written and signed agreements of June 9 and 10 signed by the chairmen of the GRP and NDFP negotiating panels and by the members of their respective special teams,” he said.

Sison said the President’s unilateral decision makes it starkly clear that the GRP under Duterte is not interested in serious peace negotiations with the NDFP

“It is interested vainly in obtaining the NDFP capitulation under the guise of an indefinite ceasefire agreements and breaking the provision in the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on the Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which requires formal negotiations in a foreign neutral venue and therefore putting the negotiations under the control and under duress of an emerging fascist dictatorship and its armed minions,” Sison said.

“Because the GRP under Duterte is obviously not interested in serious peace negotiations, the revolutionary forces and the people have no choice but to single-mindedly wage people’s war to achieve the national and social liberation of the Filipino people,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte postpones resumption of formal GRP-NDFP talks

Government peace adviser Jesus Dureza announced President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to postpone the scheduled June 28 resumption of formal peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

In a press briefing in Malacañan Thursday, Dureza said the initial timeline both parties worked on had to be “necessarily adjusted” after Duterte instructed to government panel to “engage the bigger peace table, the general public.”

“Our peace efforts to succeed should have good support from the general public. Hence, it is necessary that all efforts must be exerted first to inform then engage them in the same way that the government engages the rebels in addressing the root causes of conflict,” Dureza explained.

It was earlier announced that the thrice-cancelled fifth round of formal talks shall be held on June 28 to 30 after a week of implementing a seven day “stand down agreement” between their respective armed forces starting June 21

“We are now on the cusp of major breakthroughs in the peace talks, hence the urgent need now to take deliberate steps to ensure that we do not falter. Just and sustainable and lasting peace will happen only when our people understand and support these efforts,” Dureza added.

Dureza said that GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III has already called his counterpart to inform them of Duterte’s postponement of the talks.

He added that GRP representatives are set to fly to The Netherlands to personally explain the GRP decision.

Setback

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said they consider the postponement a setback from the schedule that both parties have already agreed upon.

Agcaoili revealed that even before Dureza’s announcement to postpone both the “stand down agreement” and the resumption of formal talks on June 21 and June 28, respectively, the GRP has already told him and the Third Party Facilitator (TPF), the Royal Norwegian Government, of its unilateral decision.

“The GRP also said they would send a team here to The Netherlands this weekend to explain to us the basis of their decision and the Third Party Facilitator shall be present,” Agcaoili told Kodao.

“Of course we consider this a setback from the schedule that we have already agreed upon. But we are ready to receive their team this weekend to explain to us the reasons for their unilateral decision to make adjustments to the schedule,” Agcaoili said.

The NDFP chief negotiator said he was told by the GRP that Duterte wants to study the documents of the four backchannel talks since he ordered the resumption of the negotiations last March.

“But there may also be other reasons. Remember, before he even met his peace panel yesterday, Duterte already announced that the resumption of the talks shall be in mid-July,” Agcaoili said.

He added that the NDFP panel considers the development as merely a rescheduling of the talks, given that GRP courts have agreed to allow six NDFP negotiators to travel to Oslo, Norway for the resumption of formal negotiations.

The six are Benito Tiamzon, Allan Jazmines, Rafael Baylosis, Adelberto Silva, Randall Echanis and Vicente Ladlad.

“The only problem is that the six have yet to be issued visa and departure orders,” Agcaoili said.

The GRP has also yet to answer NDFP and TPF’s queries on the finalization of the coordinated unilateral ceasefire as well as the agrarian reform and rural development and national industrialization and economic development sections of the prospective comprehensive social and economic agreement, he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Norway appoints new GRP-NDFP talks facilitator

The Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) appointed a new special envoy to the Philippine peace process, its embassy in Manila announced Tuesday.

Diplomat Idun Tvedt is appointed as the new facilitator to the peace process between the Government of the [Republic of the] Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), replacing Elisabeth Slåttum who had been the most successful to hold the post so far.

The RNG is the Third Party Facilitator of the GRP-NDFP peace process since 2001.

A lawyer by education, Tvedt has made a career in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the areas of human rights and peace, the RNG Embassy said.

“In the past few years, she worked at the Norwegian Embassy in Bogota where she was a member of the facilitation team responsible for the peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia],” it added.

Outgoing and incoming. Slattum (left) and Tvedt (right). [Photo by Dr. J. Alcantara]

Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Førner said Tvedt serves as an encouragement to their embassy in Manila as it assists the peace process between the Manila government and the Leftist revolutionary movement.

“[Tvedt] has a high standing in the Norwegian Foreign Service and her knowledge and experience in peace and reconciliation matters are truly impressive,” Førner said.

Inquirer.net earlier reported Tvedt is scheduled to arrive in the Philippines Sunday for a two-day visit.

Førner said he is sad to see Slåttum go after her successful three-year term as special envoy.

Successful facilitator

Slåttum took over as special envoy from fellow diplomat Tore Hattrem in 2014 when formal peace negotiations between the Benigno Aquino government and the NDFP had already been suspended for more than three years.

The Rodrigo Duterte government resumed formal peace negotiations with the NDFP in August 2016.

Four formal talks had been held since in Norway, Italy and The Netherlands with substantial agreements on agrarian reform and rural development.

Duterte however cancelled the scheduled fifth round of negotiations in The Netherlands last May after failing to convince the NDFP to sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement before talks could continue.

Duterte, center, with the GRP negotiating team last Thursday. (Malacañan photo)

Duterte has hinted about resuming formal negotiations in a recent speech in Misamis Oriental while Malacañan Palace has also released photographs of the President meeting his negotiating team last Thursday.

The NDFP for its part said it has always remained open to resuming the negotiations.

“The NDFP had always been open to continue with the fifth round of the formal talks, which he (Duterte) has scuttled in May 2017,” NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Norway to stand by Filipinos in the peace process–Ambassador

Royal Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Forner delivered the first remarks at the opening ceremonies of the third round of formal peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Forner said his government is committed to facilitating the peace process between both parties.

He also said that the Philippine and Norways is celebrating 70 years of diplomatic relationship this year. Read more

GRP and NDFP open their second round of formal negotiations in Oslo


Watch select scenes of the historic opening ceremony of the second round of formal talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Oslo, Norway last October 6, 2016.

Despite a nine-hour delay from the original 10 o’clock schedule of the ceremony, the event successfully set the tone for the next fur days of the negotiations that are hoped to produce agreements on socio-economic reforms, amnesty for political prisoners, joint ceasefire, and political and constitutional reforms.

Kodao Productions continues its comprehensive coverage of the formal peace talks for the fourth consecutive time.

Oslo, Norway
October 6, 2016

GRP-NDFP agree on six major points, initialize drafts on 4th day of talks

OSLO, Norway—The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panels have already agreed on six major issues barely into the fourth day of their scheduled five-day talks.

Moving with surprising dispatch, both panels already initialled their joint drafts of the affirmation of previously signed agreements, reconstitution of NDFP’s list of Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG)-protected personnel, acceleration of the peace negotiations, the mode of interim ceasefire, general amnesty of NDFP-listed political detainees, and the convening of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

Six more NDFP consultants arrive in Oslo

Concha Araneta-Bocala, Randy Malayao, Kennedy Bangibang, Alfredo Mapano, Ariel Arbitrario, and Eduardo Genelsa arrived this morning in Oslo, Norway to participate in the formal peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP. Read more

LARAWAN: Arrival of GPH and NDFP delegates

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Oslo, Norway

August 22, 2016

PEACE TALKS NECESSARY TO ADDRESS MODE OF CEASEFIRE–NDFP

THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said its guerillas can still use command-detonated landmines as there is no valid ceasefire between the New People’s Army (NPA) and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) soldiers and police forces.

In a statement following President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest threat of withdrawing from the peace talks yesterday, the NDFP said it is in fact necessary to resume the formal peace talks on August 20 in Oslo, Norway where the mode of ceasefire can be discussed.

Duterte said the NPA’s use of landmines against the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police must be discussed in the talks or he would order the GRP peace panel to withdraw from the negotiating table.

“I am saying now: Stop the landmines or you tell the leaders at itong gubyerno ko, get out from the talks. Alam mo bakit? I am now invoking the Geneva Conventions. It is part of the international law not only of the Philippines but around the world,” Duterte said.

The NDFP disagrees with Duterte, however, saying the NPA is not violating rules of war with its use of command-detonated landmines in its guerilla war against government soldiers.

“We wish to point out that the use of command-detonated land mines is not violative of the Geneva Convention and the Ottawa Treaty,” NDFP’s statement said.

NDFP peace panel legal adviser Edre Olalia said the Geneva Convention only prohibits targeting civilians and civilian populations and not military or police targets.

He added that the Ottawa Treaty of 1997 does not prohibit command-detonated anti-personnel mines, as well as both target-detonated and command-detonated anti-tank or anti-vehicle mines.

The Ottawa Treaty of 1997, or the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, which took effect in 1999.

“The use of land mines and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) – particularly and most especially those that are command-detonated anti-personnel and anti-vehicle types or contact-detonated anti-vehicle types—are legitimate tools of warfare considering that they only target legitimate military objects of attack and precludes any inchoate, potential, impending, actual or even future harm or injury to the civilians and the civilian population,” Olalia said.

The NDFP urged Duterte to release its detained consultants and issued travel documents before August 20 to allow both its and GRP’s negotiating panels to discuss the mode of ceasefire and how best to arrange it.

“It would be better than not to resume formal peace talks,” NDFP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)