PROSPECTS for the resumption of peace talks between the incoming government of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and local communists look promising as representatives of both camps who met in Oslo, Norway, expressed hopes that formal negotiations can start in July.
Incoming peace adviser Jesus Dureza is yet to officially announce results of two-day exploratory talks but a report by the European bureau of ABS-CBN quoted him as describing the first session as a “good start.”
The informal talks started at 5 p.m. on June 14 at Leysebu Hotel at the outskirts of Oslo. The meeting lasted six hours.
“The ambiance of our initial meeting is good because it’s been four years since our negotiations got stalled. And Mr. Joma Sison and his colleagues have met with us already for peace talks in the Philippines. The start has been good. Our first day is done, we resume our meeting tomorrow because whatever we agree on now, we can’t sign it yet because we are not yet in a position to,” Dureza, who flew to Oslo late last week with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello and former lawmaker Hernani Braganza, said.
Joma is Jose Maria Sison, founder of the re-established Communist Party of the Philippines.
Dureza, however, noted, that whatever comes out of the initial talks will be preliminaries since they are not yet in a position to act on behalf of the government.
“So once we’re in a position to, and upon instructions of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, it will be easier for us to proceed with the next steps to restore peace in the Philippines,” he said.
The group also discussed the mechanics of the peace talks.
The Oslo meeting was attended by Sison, National Democratic Front (NDF) lead negotiator Luis Jalandoni and Fidel Agcaoili and observers from the Norwegian government.
Duterte had vowed to release political prisoners as part of confidence-building measures that resulted in the historic Oslo talks.
Sison described Duterte as a revolutionary and a socialist, saying so far in the negotiations, there were no “red flags” yet or ticklish issues that may cause disagreements.
The CPP chief likened the discussions to “opening moves” in a “chess game.”
On the matter of his homecoming, Sison said he is not in a hurry because there are serious repercussions to be considered, such as his possible arrest in transit points and the dropping of his status as an asylum seeker in The Netherlands if he decided to come back to the Philippines.
Previous talks with past administrations bogged down after the New People’s Army, the CPP’s armed wing, was included in the list of terrorist organizations.
Under President Benigno Aquino 3rd, the government refused to release political prisoners and even effected the arrest of two top NDF leaders — couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.