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Peace talks with Reds back on

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Norway helps gov’t to resume negotiations with NPA, NDFP after 6 years

Six years after negotiations were terminated by the Duterte administration, the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front have now agreed to resume peace talks to end a decades-old insurgency.

“The parties agree to a principled and peaceful resolution of the armed conflict,” read a joint statement issued by both sides, signed in Oslo, Norway on Nov. 23.

“The parties acknowledge the deep-rooted socioeconomic and political grievances and agree to come up with a framework that sets the priorities for the peace negotiation.”

Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said both sides have agreed to “a principled and peaceful resolution of the armed conflict.”

”This joint communiqué highlights a significant milestone in the quest of the Filipino people to achieve peace, reconciliation, and unity,” Galvez said in a Palace briefing yesterday.

“We will start anew… really a fresh start,” he added.

For her part, NDFP chief negotiator Julieta De Lima-Sison said they will raise some “impediments” such as the release of peace consultants and political prisoners, as well as the terrorist designation of the NDFP.

“The timeline is still being discussed. Maybe next year,” she said.

“What we can only answer and the most certain thing is we have signed a joint statement and we are eager to move faster,” Connie Ledesma, consultant and wife of NDFP Chairman Luis Jalandoni, added.

Ledesma said the NDFP will also push for the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

Galvez said he was optimistic about the relations of the government and the NDFP under the Marcos administration.

”I see that out President is very positive, based on our briefing, the perspective is good. Even the other party, they are very confident. We had a good experience in Oslo,” he said.

The consensus to restart the talks came after President Marcos issued amnesty proclamations covering various rebel groups, including the CPP-NDF-New People’s Army.

The ongoing armed struggle, launched in 1969, grew out of the global communist movement, finding fertile soil in the country’s stark rich-poor divide.

At its peak in the 1980s, the group boasted about 26,000 fighters, a number the military says has now dwindled to a few thousand. Since 1986, successive Philippine administrations have held peace talks with the communists through their Netherlands-based political arm, the NDFP.

The 2016 election of President Rodrigo Duterte—a self-declared socialist —brought a burst of optimism for peace talks.

But the talks later devolved into threats and recrimination, with Duterte officially cutting them off in 2017, declaring the group a terrorist organization and accusing them of killing police and soldiers while negotiations were underway. With AFP

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