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GRP rejects Joma-Duterte meet in Hanoi

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiating panel rejected a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) suggestion that its chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison and President Rodrigo Duterte meet in Hanoi, Vietnam.

This was revealed by Sison in a statement Saturday, May 26, saying he and his former student could have agreed to attend the signing of substantial agreements, including an interim peace declaration, by the two parties.

“The NDFP has offered Hanoi as the alternative venue to facilitate the attendance of Duterte. But the GRP side did not give a positive answer and the RNG [Royal Norwegian Government, third party facilitator to the peace negotiations] special envoy cannot make any arrangement with Hanoi,” Sison said.

“Hanoi as a venue near the Philippines was proposed by NDFP in consideration of the heavy work schedule of Duterte,” he added.

Sison added that the original plan mutually agreed upon by the GRP and NDFP representatives in back channel consultations in recent weeks was to have Duterte attend the Oslo ceremony for the signing of the Interim Peace Agreement.

But the GRP side backed out and offered Duterte’s executive secretary Salvador Medialdea as his proxy instead, Sison added.

Duterte has repeatedly challenged Sison to come home to the Philippines and continue the peace negotiations in the country.

In a speech in Davao City Thursday, Duterte again said he is guaranteeing Sison’s safety and will even escort him back to the airport should the talks fail.

Sison, however, said his acceptance of Duterte’s challenge will violate earlier GRP and NDFP agreements such as The Hague Joint Declaration and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees to hold the talks in a foreign and neutral venue.

“Second, I would be placing myself and the entire peace negotiations in the pocket of Duterte and at his mercy. Third, any peace spoiler or saboteur would be able to destroy the entire peace negotiations by simply abducting or harming any NDFP panelist or consultant,” Sison added.

NDFP negotiators and staff were arrested and killed when their 1986-1987 peace talks with the Corazon Aquino government collapsed, prompting them to insist on a foreign and neutral venue when formal peace negotiations resumed with GRP President Fidel Ramos in 1992.

Sison however is not ruling out returning to the country.

“I have consistently declared that I will return home when substantial progress is already achieved in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and my comrades and lawyers are satisfied with the legal and security guarantees,” Sison said.

“By substantial progress, I mean the entire CASER [Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms] has been mutually approved by the GRP and NDFP principals,” he said.

For his soonest possible interface with Duterte, Sison said the NDFP has considered the possibility of the meeting “at the signing of the Interim Peace Agreement, packaging the ceasefire agreement, amnesty proclamation and the ARRD and NIED sections of CASER either in Oslo or Hanoi.”

GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III’s comment on Sison’s statement is still being sought by Kodao. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Uphold CARHRIHL: Creating the atmosphere for a just peace

Peace advocates commemorated the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in a forum at St. Scholastica’s College in Manila last March 10.

The advocates, in the presence of hundreds of SSC students, called on GRP President Rodrigo Duterte to respect the human rights agreement and resume the peace process with the NDFP.

“At this time, when the Duterte administration appears focused on moves like pulling out of the International Criminal Court and declaring more than 600 persons as terrorists under the Human Security Act, we urge President Rodrigo R. Duterte to instead focus the attention of his government on faithful adherence to the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law,” the advocates said in a statement. (Editing by M. Montajes)

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)

GRP ‘preconditions’ and ‘creeping nationwide martial rule’ set back talks–CPP

NOORDWIJK AAN ZEE, The Netherlands—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) blamed the Rodrigo Duterte government for the cancellation of the fifth round of formal negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), saying the setback is Manila government’s sole responsibility.

The Government of the Republic of the Philippines’ (GRP) decision not to participate in the fifth round of talks was brought about by its all-out war and martial law, the CPP in a statement said.

The group said the GRP demanded that the NPA silence its guns while “AFP’s (Armed Forces of the Philippines) cannons, bombs and heavy gunfire thunder against the people.”

The CPP said the GRP Negotiating Panel “imposed unnecessary, last-minute and unacceptable preconditions for talks to proceed.”

It added the GRP’s decision has effectively derailed and set back negotiations on a Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).

The CPP said the GRP insisted that the NDFP sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement prior to the negotiations on any other substantive agreement and the CPP recall its declaration to the NPA to carry out more military offensives in the face of its own all-out war and imposition of martial law in Mindanao.

Such demands have become increasingly counterproductive, the underground organization said.

Creeping nationwide martial rule

The group explained its order for more tactical offensives against GRP forces was merely a response to defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s statement the NPA may be a target of the GRP’s martial law imposition.

The CPP said it heard the retraction by Defense Secretary Lorenzana that martial law in Mindanao is not directed against the NPA but said it was “empty and self-contradicted by his consequent order for the military to go against the NPA for its ‘illegal activities’.”

The group said that even as Duterte’s martial law declaration covers only Mindanao, all GRP military units and police forces have gone on red or full alert in North Luzon, Central Luzon, the National Capital Region, Bicol Region, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Negros and Panay.

“They have imposed their threatening armed presence in public places, parked tanks in government offices and roadsides. Checkpoints have been set up as well in Tacloban City on the utterly ridiculous reason of ‘solidarity with martial law in Mindanao,’” the CPP said.

“The Party joins the people in denouncing the creeping nationwide martial rule,” it added.

Norwegian government still supportive of the peace process

Meanwhile, Elisabeth Slattum, Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process said her government remains committed to their support of the peace negotiations.

“It is very unfortunate that this round of formal talks could not take place as scheduled. But it is important to remember that all peace processes go through difficult times,” Slattum told reporters after the cancellation announcements.

“What defines a successful peace process is not the absence of crises but the ability of the parties to overcome them and push through,” she said, adding she witnessed how the negotiating panels showed “great dedication and commitment to these peace negotiations.”

“It is important to specify that although this fifth round of formal talks will not take place, the peace talks have not been cancelled and the peace process remains intact. Norway is very hopeful that the parties will be able to return to the negotiating table very soon,” Slattum said.# (Raymund B. Villanueva/Featured photo by Viory Schellekens)

 

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‘We’re back where we belong’–Norwegian facilitator

Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Elisabeth Slattum welcomed the GRP and NDFP panels to the negotiating table after two months of impasse.

In her opening remarks, Slattum congratulated the parties and the president of the Philippines for “working through a tough crisis and for showing courage, perseverance and genuine commitment for the achievement of peace for the benefit of the Filipino people.”

Slattum added it is the Norwegian’s hope as committed third party facilitators the parties would continue to progress in their endeavors to reach agreement on socio-economic reforms with the aim of addressing the root causes of the conflict.

The Netherlands
April 3, 2017

Peace process needs patient support and involvement of the Filipino people–Slattum

Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Elisabeth Slattum encouraged the Filipino people’s support and involvement to the peace process.

In her remarks at the opening ceremony of the third round of talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Rome, Italy yesterday, the Third Party Facilitator also asked both parties to have courage to both come out as winners in the negotiations.

Watch and listen to Slattum’s speech. Read more

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

What they said before: GPH and NDFP opening statements at last formal talks in 2011

AS PART of Kodao Productions’ series on the imminent resumption of formal peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the incoming Government of the Philippines (GPH) under President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte, these opening statements by the incumbent GPH and the NDFP at their first and only formal talks in February 18, 2011 are hereby republished.

Duterte-appointed representatives Jesus Dureza, Silvestre Bello III and Hernani Braganza are, at the moment, on their way to Oslo, Norway to meet with the old NDFP panel for preliminary talks before their formal meet sometime in July.

The following speeches were delivered by incumbent Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles for the GPH and Luis Jalandoni for the NDFP, respectively.

While the February 2011 talks resulted in a Joint Statement, there has been no peace achievements made since, however.

In his speech, Jalandoni called for the release of NDFP consultants and staff and the honoring of previous signed agreements.

After the Oslo meet, the GPH under Benigno Aquino has subsequently arrested more NDFP consultants and wanted to set aside signed agreements such as The Hague Joint Declaration (THJD) and the Joint Agreement on Immunity and Safety Guarantees (JASIG).

Deles was reported to have dismissed THJD as a “document of perpetual division.”

The audio recordings were originally published by Bulatlat.com. Kodao Productions recorded the speeches in Oslo, Norway.

PAPP Teresita Q. Deles

NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni