Duterte camp optimistic on peace talks with Reds

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HOPES FOR PEACE Peace and rights advocates hold paper doves symbolizing support for peace talks between the government and the Philippine Left, as well as for release of political prisoners under the incoming administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. A Mass for peace and unity was later celebrated at Immaculate Conception Church in Cubao, Quezon City, on Friday. PHOTO BY MIKE DE JUAN

HOPES FOR PEACE Peace and rights advocates hold paper doves symbolizing support for peace talks between the government and the Philippine Left, as well as for release of political prisoners under the incoming administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. A Mass for peace and unity was later celebrated at Immaculate Conception Church in Cubao, Quezon City, on Friday. PHOTO BY MIKE DE JUAN

DAVAO CITY: President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s peace adviser Jesus Dureza expressed optimism on Friday that peace negotiations with communist rebels will resume smoothly next month.

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

Duterte sent Dureza, Silvestre Bello 3rd and Hernani Braganza to Oslo, Norway, to meet with their counterparts Luis Jalandoni, Fidel Agcaoili and Jose Maria Sison to discuss the resumption of the stalled negotiations.

The peace adviser, Bello and Braganza 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.


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

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

Dureza said the two-day “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 re-igniting the peace landscape. After our two-day Oslo parley, there is now evident optimism and trust. There is mutual enthusiasm and hope, not only among 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 added.

He said there will expectedly 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.”

The government’s peace talks with the NPA collapsed in 2004 after the 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 and the NPA.

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

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