The incoming members of the government’s peace panel signed late Wednesday a joint statement in Oslo, Norway with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDF) that calls for the resumption of formal peace negotiations in the third week of July.
The Oslo joint statement, which was the product of the two-day talks, also calls for the immediate release of political prisoners on humanitarian grounds and of those included in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) list, as well as the affirmation of previous agreements and accelerated process for negotiations.
The exploratory talks were witnessed by representatives from the Norwegian government.
“We will recommend the release of all political prisoners to Duterte once he assumes the presidency and both sides will work for an interim ceasefire to boost the formal resumption of peace talks in the third week of July in Oslo,” incoming Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus “Jess” Dureza said.
For his part, NDFP chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni said the success of the exploratory talks “shows there is big hope and expectations that we can move forward to address the roots of the armed confict and to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Philippines.”
Aside from Dureza and Jalandoni, CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, Fidel Agcaoli from NDFP, and incoming Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
Sison has expressed confidence that the renewed peace negotiations will reach a successful conclusion under the Duterte administration. “There should never be any problem in the peace process that we cannot discuss and fix promptly, directly or through emissaries. We have the necessary degree of rapport to exchange views and come to an agreement quickly in order to bring the peace process to a successful and happy conclusion,” he said.
The CCP founder was Duterte’s professor at the Lyceum of the Philippines.
President Aquino shelved the peace talks with the Maoists in 2013 as he accused the CPP-NPA-NDF of insicerity. But the NDFP said Aquino has been an obstacle to peace, condemining the arrest of its peace consultants under Aquino.