The National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the negotiating arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA), is willing to hold a three-month review that will also allow Philippine Government (GRP) Peace Panel Chair Silvestre Bello III and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza to explain the peace process to their Communist comrades.
This was disclosed by Hernani Braganza, Philippine Peace Panel member who has been conducting the back-channel talks with the Communist in a message to The Manila Bulletin from Utrecht, The Netherlands where he has been meeting with NDFP Chief Political Consultant and Communist Party of the Philppines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison and NDFP Chief Negotiator Fidel Agacaoili.
Braganza, on instructions of Bello and Dureza, said he had gone to Utrecht post-haste where Sison has been in exile for over three decades.
“The government team flew to Utrecht to formally communicate to the NDFP the decision of President Rodrigo Roa Dutere to re-schedule the proposed resumption of the government’s peace negotiations with Communist guerillas,” Braganza said in a statement sent to The Manila Bulletin.
According to Braganza, while Sison and Agcaoili expressed their dismay over Duterte’s decision, they told him that they were keeping an “open mind on the President’s decision and await the outcome of the outcome of government’s review.”
A set of agreements was supposed to be tackled had the resumption of the fifth round of the talks resumed on June 28 to 30 in Oslo, Norway.
Among these initial agreements was the creation of a preparatory committee which could have worked for the return of Sison, who has been on self-exile in The Netherlands for over 30 years, to the Philippines.
But Duterte shot it down, saying that he wanted more time to determine if the Communist group was sincere in forging peace with the government.
Braganza added: (The NDFP negotiators) reiterated their commitment to all signed agreements, including those involving the planned visit of Prof. Jose Ma. Sison in the Philippines to Manila for a meeting with the President. In turn, we extended the government panel’s appreciation to the NDF’s open-mindedness in coming to terms with President Duterte’s decision.”
Braganza also said that the NDFP leaders expressed their “intention to conduct their own separate actions and activities that aim to protect the gains already achieved as a result of backchannel, informal and formal talks between the two panels.”
He added that the NDFP was also “favorably considering the invitation extended by Sec. Dureza and Sec. Bello for NDFP representatives to join the public consultations on the peace negotiation.”
“It is our fervent hope that the consultations will help galvanize public support to peace efforts aimed at ending the armed conflict through the achievement of economic, social and political reforms,” Braganza said.
“At the conclusion of the meeting, the government team extended its appreciation to representatives of the Royal Norwegian Government for their continuing support to our peace conversations not only with the NDFP but with other rebel groups interested in the attainment of just and lasting peace in the Philippines,” Braganza said in his statement.