11 detained rebel leaders to join peace talks in Norway

11 detained rebel leaders to join peace talks in Norway

- Peace talks between the Philippine government and CPP/NPA/NDF will resume on August 20 in Olso, Norway

- Government will use this extended time to work on the release of Communist prisoners

- 11 rebel leaders are expected to be released to join the negotiation

A milestone has taken place for the Philippine government in relation to the administration's efforts to conduct peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Philippine government peace process adviser, Jesus Dureza, confirmed last Tuesday, July 19, that formal peace talks with the communist leaders will resume on August 20. The original schedule was set on July, but was moved the next month to provide the government enough time to work on the release of detained rebel leaders. It talks will take place on August 20 to August 27, in Olso, Norway.

For the past four years, the previous administration had attempted to conduct peace talks with the communist leaders in the country but had not really reached a final settlement. Thus, for Dureza, this is a milestone for the peace process for the formal negotiations had finally taken place.

11 detained rebel leaders to join peace talks in Norway

Government peace panel and the NDF panel (Photo from Jesus Dureza's Facebook account)

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Dureza said that the resumption of peace talks is to be followed by a reaffirmation of signed agreements between the two camps on an interim ceasefire as well as the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees. He also said that he is hoping for the release of other political prisoners not included in the negotiation.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to work on the release of the Communist members who will be included in the panel in the said negotiation process. A statement from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process stated that there would be 11 members expected to be freed whose names Dureza declined to disclose.

Silvestre Bello III will be heading the Philippine panel, while Luis Jalandoni will sit for the NDF as chair.

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Dureza said that the founder of CPP, Jose Maria Sison will also join them in the peace talk in Norway although he is not a member of the panel. Sison will play a key role in the said talk as ‘consultant, Dureza said.

For the Philippine government, Hernani Braganza, Rene Sarmiento, Angela Librado-Trinidad, and Noel Felongco will join them.

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Braganza, one of the representatives for the government said that they will take the month long extension as an opportunity to look into the proposal for the release of NDF consultants so they can join them in the talk. He said it is much better if they are already united in the outset to avoid possible problems in the future.

He also recognized that clashes often ruined the peace process and said that the military as well as local governments would be consulted “to avoid possible irritants in the future”.

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