• Peace panel sees signing of new pact

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    Government peace negotiators on Saturday reiterated their commitment to work closely with their counterparts from the National Democratic Front (NDF) for the speedy resolution of issues related to the crafting of a Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (Caser).

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    “We in the GRP remain committed to our goal of signing Caser within one year of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term of office. We are optimistic that our counterparts from the NDF share the same goal,” Hernani Braganza, supervising panel member for Caser, said.

    “In fact, our Reciprocal Working Committee (RWC) on Caser is prepared to wrap up work with the NDF within the six-month timeline agreed upon in Oslo last August,” Braganza added.

    During the resumption of formal peace negotiations in Oslo in August, the negotiating panels from the Philippine government and NDF signed an agreement binding their RWCs on Caser to “endeavor to complete work within a period of six months.”

    The RWCs on Caser met again Saturday in Asker, Norway, to begin harmonizing their framework and outline for future discussions on socio-economic reforms.

    The discussion hit an early snag, however, after the NDF refused to include in the outline nine major outcomes that the Philippine government wanted spelled out in the Caser.

    These are poverty eradication, environment and climate justice, globally competitive economy, adequate and quality social services, reduced inequalities, peaceful rural communities, food security, living incomes, and gender equality and representation.

    “We want the outcomes spelled out in Caser because we do not want to limit the discussions only on the root causes of poverty. We also want exhaustive discussions on how we, the Philippine government and the NDF, can agree on a shared view of the future for the Philippines,” Braganza said.

    “The outcomes we spelled out, hopefully, will not only address the root causes of armed conflict. They should bring a better future for every Filipino. After all, this is what Caser is all about,” he added.

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