|Manila to resume talks with rebel group soon|
| [18.09.2011, 09:29am, Sun. GMT]|
|Peace negotiations with the the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) will resume in October or November in Norway, the head of the Philippine government’s peace panel said yesterday. Alexander Padilla expressed optimism that the three-year timetable that he had set for himself to finish negotiations with the NDF-Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army would be realised in 2013.“I think the talks would be finished within three years, from my assumption as chairman of the government peace panel in 2010 to 2013. Based on experience of other countries in the world, peace talks did not last three years if both parties are willing to have a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” he said.|
Padilla said he would resign as government peace panel chairman if he fails to meet his three- year target to finish talks with the NDF-CPP-NPA.
“I’m still hoping that I could still meet that target. Maybe, by June 2012, we would be able to finish the talks and have an agreement for lasting peace in the country,” Padilla said.
Padilla said the main stumbling block to peace negotiations between the government and the NDF-CPP-NPA is the insistence of the NDF on having all its detained members, who are serving prison terms, released even if they are not covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG).
“On their (NDF-CPP-NPA) part, they viewed us as insincere negotiators,” Padilla said.
He and NDF peace panel spokesman Fidel Agcaoili have engaged in a war of words that affected the resumption of the peace talks, over the NDF’s insistence on the government releasing all JASIG-protected NDF members from prison.
Padilla said he remained civil with Agcaoili.
“I’m still civil with Agcaoili, but he is not. In my statement, I never used harsh words in addressing him. It was the first time that I was branded as ‘balasubas’ (deadbeat). I hope he (Agcaoili) will continue the talks, I hope it will continue for the sake of the Filipino people,” Padilla said.
He explained that the government had taken a confidence-building measure when it released five JASIG-protected members of NDF including Agcaoili and Luis Jalandoni.
He said the government could not release NDF members now in jail. “The NDF has two lists of JASIG-protected members. One includes Agcaoili and Jalandoni in the list, that we already released from detention. We have no obligation to release those unverified aliases.
“There is a verification process that we have to follow. We went to the safety deposit box of the NDF, but there were no photos.
“The only thing they produced was an encrypted disc. So, we cannot verify the identity of the people that they wanted to be released,” Padilla said.
(THE PHILIPPINE STAR)