Gov't may resume informal talks with NDF-CPP
Manila (19 November) -- The Arroyo administration may soon hold informal talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines – National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) and its armed group, the New People's Army (NPA), in another attempt to reach a common ground on how to restart formal talks on ending the decades-old communist insurgency in the country.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon, in a press briefing in Malacanang this afternoon, said the government is "indeed considering allowing our panel to go to Norway" upon the proposal of the government of Oslo for a third informal meeting after formal peace talks between the government and the NDF-CPP-NPA collapsed in Aug. 2004.
Esperon said an agenda of the informal talks will have to be put in place before the government panel headed by former Labor Secretary Nieves Confesor proceeds to Oslo.
Among the key topics the government would like to take up during the informal meeting, according to Esperon, are those on different modes of ceasefire taking into account models from other peace processes in other countries, and discussions on putting a stop to the NPA's illegal taxation and recruitment of children for combat.
He also said the NPA's violent activities on the ground must be discussed. Among the crimes committed by the NPA during the last 10 months were 34 rape cases, 104 liquidations of which 94 were civilian victims; 14 kidnappings, five robbery/holdups, and 66 arson cases.
Esperon also said NPAs must stop attacking mining and construction companies and cell sites.
Likewise, they must put a stop to using landmines, and the killings in the countryside, he added.
Esperon also said the government panel will put forward the Arroyo administration's new paradigm of peace based on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), and seek a more efficient implementation of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees or JASIG.
"We will await the response of the other side," he said.
Esperon said that the government remains open to negotiating peace with the NDF even as he stressed that the informal talks will only be "exploratory, no commitments."
The government has insisted on a ceasefire before the holding of the peace talks so that the rebels can prove that they are not terrorists, after all, he said.
He pointed out that removing the rebel group from the list of terrorist organizations is something the government cannot do because it cannot dictate on other countries like the members of the European Union (EU), which have blacklisted the NPA as a foreign terrorist organization.
The Oslo-brokered talks between the government and the CPP-NDF-NPA collapsed after members of the NDF panel walked out of the negotiations in 2004 in protest over the groups' inclusion in the EU terror list. (PIA) [top]