Duterte camp optimistic in peace talks with communist rebels

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - First Page - (Mindanao Examiner)

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s peace adviser Jesus Dureza expressed optimism that peace negotiations with communist rebels will resume smoothly this month.

“Four years after its breakdown and collapse, we are now on the threshold of a resumption of the stalled peace talks with the CPPNPA-NDF,” Dureza said, referring to Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed wing the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, its political group.

Duterte last week sent Dureza, and Silvestre Bello III and Hernani Braganza to Oslo and met with their counterparts Luis Jalandoni, Fidel Agcaoili and Jose Maria Sison to discuss the resumption of stalled talks. They also signed a joint agreement witnessed by Ambassador Elizabeth Slattum, the Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process of the Royal Norwegian Government which is facilitating the talks, according to Dureza.

He said the formal peace talks have been set in July in Oslo where both sides are expected to discuss the affirmation of previously signed agreement, the timeline of the talks, reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees list, and amnesty proclamation for the release of all detained political prisoners and NDFP consultants and the mode of interim ceasefire, among others.

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“Our signing of the Joint Statement in Oslo, Norway will usher in the formal re-start next month of what could be another renewed effort to end conflict and bring about that long elusive but cherished peace in the land,” Dureza said.

He said the two-day talks “encounter” in Oslo was a reunion of sorts of old friends on both sides of the negotiating table, but whose efforts in various times and climes in the past proved futile.

“Now, new sparks of the dawning Rodrigo Duterte presidency are reigniting the peace landscape. After our 2-day Oslo parley, there is now evident optimism and trust. There is mutual enthusiasm and hope, not only amongst us negotiators across the table, but most significantly, among us all Filipinos, in whose behalf all these efforts are being done in the first place. Yet, the road ahead to trek is not that always smooth and easy,” Dureza said.

He said there will expectedly (sic) be “humps and bumps” along the way, “but there is a destination that we must all inevitably reach. Our new President is taking the decisive lead and has shown us the way. Let us all stay the course,” he added.

Government peace talks with the NPA collapsed in 2004 after rebels accused then President Gloria Arroyo of reneging on several agreements, among them the release of all political prisoners in the country and the removal of the terrorist tag on the Communist Party of the Philippines and its political wing, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and the NPA.

Arroyo also suspended the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees after the peace talks failed.

Communist leader Jose Maria Sison and Luis Jalandoni with Sec. Jesus Dureza and the members of the peace panels during a two-day meeting in Oslo, Norway. Dureza says peace talks will resume next month. (Courtesy of Sec. Jesus Dureza)

Communist leader Jose Maria Sison and Luis Jalandoni with Sec. Jesus Dureza and the members of the peace panels during a two-day meeting in Oslo, Norway. Dureza says peace talks will resume next month. (Courtesy of Sec. Jesus Dureza)

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