• Reds hope peace talks will focus on reforms

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    THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines on Wednesday expressed hopes that social and economic reforms will be the focus of discussion in the second round of peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Government of the Philippines (GPH) in Oslo, Norway.

    The NDFP, in a statement emailed to reporters covering the Philippine National Police, said the social and economic reforms are the “meat of the peace process.”

    The statement said land reform and national industrialization will be tackled by both parties in the second round of peace negotiations from October 6 to 10.

    “After almost two decades and two major economic crises, the 1997 Asian regional crisis and the 2008 world financial crisis, the two panels are yet to discuss a key crisis-protection agreement,” Alan Jazmines said in the statement.

    Jazmines, an NDFP consultant, is the vice chairman of the Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms (Caser).

    “Now, we have updated our Caser draft especially in light of the worsening economic crisis brought about by neo-liberal policies. However, land reform and national industrialization are still the main content of our proposal because of these twin economic development strategies’ proven resilience to the crisis of globalization,” he said in the statement.

    According to Jazmines, “[l]and reform and national industrialization are inseparable from one another.”

    “The agriculture sector advances national industrialization, and national industrialization develops the agriculture and consequently uplifts the crisis-ridden economy of the country,” he said.

    Caser member Randall Echanis, also an NDFP consultant, said “the NDFP proposal on social and economic reforms is a product of consultations with revolutionary forces, grassroots organizations of the toiling masses of farmers and workers, professionals and patriotic businessmen.”

    “While we expect lively and contentious discussions on Caser, we also hope that both parties are strong-willed enough to overcome differences in order to solve the armed conflict at its roots,” Echanis added.

    According to the NDFP proposal, the main Caser objectives are: carry out agrarian reform and national industrialization; advance the rights of exploited, oppressed, discriminated and disadvantaged sectors of society; uphold, protect, defend and promote economic sovereignty; and conserve the national patrimony and protect the environment.

    Aside from land reform and national industrialization, the government and the NDFP are also expected to discuss a proposed bilateral ceasefire agreement and an amnesty proclamation in the second round of peace talks.

    The first round of peace talks, which wrapped up last August 19, resulted in the resolution of three issues: affirmation of previously-signed agreements, reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees list and acceleration of process for negotiations.

    The second round of peace talks will be held at the Holmenfjord Hotel.

    The government peace panel is also hoping that a peace agreement could be reached within nine to 12 months from the resumption of talks.

    ANTHONY VARGAS

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