Philippines talks end with no ceasefire

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ROME: A third round of peace talks between the Philippines and communist rebels ended Wednesday with no deal on a permanent ceasefire the government had billed as its primary goal.

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Both parties described a week of Norwegian-brokered negotiations on the outskirts of Rome as “successful” in a joint statement that was delayed by last-minute wrangling over wording.

In their statement, the parties noted that “their unilateral indefinite ceasefires remain in place,” but added that “there are issues and concerns related thereto.”

Despite the failure to tie down a permanent ceasefire after agreement on a temporary one in August, diplomats involved in bringing the two sides together told Agence France-Presse the latest discussions had been cordial and that efforts to bring the two sides closer to a deal had advanced.

Both parties agreed to meet for a fourth round of formal talks in Oslo April 2-6. Officials dealing specifically with the ceasefire issue will meet again sooner, in Utrecht in the Netherlands on February 22-27.

The communist insurgency in the Philippines, launched in 1968, is one of the longest running in the world and has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives, according to the country’s military.

The government’s chief negotiator, Silvestre Bello, had voiced hopes at the beginning of the Rome talks that obstacles to a joint ceasefire agreement could be overcome during this round of talks.

They were held in Rome because one thing both sides could agree on was that Oslo in January was too cold for any kind of Philippine negotiation, a Norwegian source told Agence France-Presse. AFP

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1 Comment

  1. aladin g. villacorte on

    Why travel to the far end of the earth – the Arctic circle – to negotiate peace in our country? Why go to Oslo for meetings when President Duterte’s home turf – Davao City – which is friendly territory to the Reds, would be ideal as venue?

    My point is not so much about the distance or the time spent coming and going, or even the huge expenses incurred by these globe-trotting (pro-poor militants?) as the perception that the participants could be hiding something from the Filipino people. Would the agenda be any different from that of the past negotiations? After a series of peace talks and nearly a dozen signed agreements under five presidents, what are the chances of achieving a lasting peace agreement this time around?

    Fr. Conrado Balweg, a folk hero in the Cordilleras who died at the hands of his former comrades, had given us a clue as to why any peace talk with the CPP-NDF-NPA will not prosper. “Talking peace with the Left is like talking to a wall,” he confessed in an interview. “Their agenda is politics, not peace.”

    One thing is certain: The Left will still be represented by the same old faces, with the same rhetoric.