President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the release of detained communist leaders as the government prepares for the opening of formal peace talks next month.
Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza said the negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army will start on August 20 in Oslo, Norway.
“It will be first — a formal resumption [of peace talks]. It is a milestone because the peace talks have broken down for four years,” Dureza said.
“The President had directed yesterday the different agencies, concerned agencies of government to start working on possible temporary release of members of CPP/NPA/NDF who will be participating in the peace negotiation,” he added.
He did not disclose the names of the detainees who will be freed.
The peace negotiations will be hosted by the Norwegian government, which acts as third party facilitator for the talks.
Dureza said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd will head the government side while NDF peace panel chairman Luis Jalandoni will represent the other party.
CPP founder Jose Maria Sison will also be present during the resumption of the formal negotiations.
“We look forward to engaging our counterparts on the other side of the table by August 20,” Dureza said.
Among the issues that will be discussed are the affirmation of signed agreements, a possible ceasefire, joint agreement on safety and immunity guarantees, and the possible release of other political prisoners.
Other substantive political and socio-economic issues may also be discussed.
The Senate President and House Speaker will also be invited to observe the peace talks.