Opening statement on the resumption of formal peace talks

Chairperson, Negotiating Panel
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
August 22, 2016

Hon. Foreign Minister of the Royal Norwegian Government, Borge Brende, Hon. State Secretary Tore Hattrem, Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process, Elisabeth Slattum, Hon. Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Hon. Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, Compatriots and Friends,

We in the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Negotiating Panel, Consultants and Staff, warmly greet and convey our heartfelt thanks to the Royal Norwegian Government for its determined and painstaking efforts as Third Party Facilitator since 2001 in patiently and efficiently working to move the peace process forward.

Their unwavering assistance and support, and the uniquely significant commitment of GPH President Duterte to push ahead the peace negotiations to address the roots of the armed conflict in order to achieve a just and lasting peace, with the tremendous efforts of our dedicated staff of lawyers and other committed organizations, have brought us to this point of high expectations for the success of our endeavors to achieve a just peace.

It is our unique privilege that in this session, our newly released NDFP consultants are present. Surely, their long standing dedication to serve the people and their rich experience will be a major contribution to these peace negotiations and give a decidedly significant push to achieve our goals in attaining a just and lasting peace.

May I introduce our Negotiating Panel: Vice-Chairperson of our Panel is Fidel Agcaoili, also the Chairperson of our Monitoring Committee under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), Julieta de Lima, Chairperson of our Reciprocal Committee on Social and Economic Reforms, Coni Ledesma, Member of the Monitoring Committee and Chairperson of the NDFP Special Office for the Protection of Children, and Asterio Palima, our representative for the Nordic countries. Of course, all of you know, Prof. Jose Maria Sison, Founding Chairperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines and NDFP Chief Political Consultant. We have a further array of consultants, lawyers, and staff whom you shall surely get to know in the following days.

We are confident that both our negotiating panels, consultants and staff, will be able to take up the agenda we both agreed upon on our June 15 Joint Statement signed here in Oslo. We shall take up the following agenda points in the coming five days:

1. Reaffirmation of previous peace agreements;
2. Reconstitution of the list of personnel covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety
and Immunity Guarantees;
3. Acceleration of peace talks on social and economic reforms, political and constitutional
reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces;
4. Amnesty Declaration for the release of all detained political prisoners; and
5. Mode of interim ceasefire

We shall once more take a point stated in our Joint Statement of June 15, namely, the release on humanitarian grounds of the sick and elderly, overly long detained, and women political prisoners.
More importantly, we expect the realization of the amnesty proclamation to release all political prisoners as a necessary incentive for the ceasefire between the two parties. Our constituency demand that there ought to be a substantive reason for the high risk of agreeing to an indefinite and prolonged ceasefire, which could amount to capitulation and mere pacification, without substantive incentives for the revolutionary movement and without assurance of success in forging satisfactory agreements on social, economic and political reforms.

Whatever is the mode of ceasefire for a start or in the long run, there must be clear premises, terms and mechanisms so that the ceasefire can be more stable, less prone to violations and less vulnerable to actual occurrences and allegations of ceasefire violations. At the same time, the ceasefire should promote the advance of substantive negotiations and agreements and not deter or delay the peace process. The two panels must discuss fully the subject of ceasefire before further work is assigned to the respective ceasefire committees of the GPH and NDFP.

With the commitment for just and lasting peace, declared by GPH President Rodrigo Duterte and the leadership of the NDFP, Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, we are confident we can decisively move forward towards achieving a just and lasting peace. The Filipino people, our Third Party Facilitator, our peace advocates in the Philippines and abroad, are one with us in aspiring for meaningful reforms like land reform and national industrialization, political and constitutional reforms that will strengthen our independence and national sovereignty, negotiate the end of hostilities, and attain a just and lasting peace.

Thank you very much!