The government and communist insurgents have agreed to resume their off-and-on peace talks after more than a year since their negotiations bogged down in Oslo, Norway, which has been retained as the third party facilitator. But there was disagreement on when the talks would resume between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed component the New People’s Army (NPA) that have been waging a Maoist-style insurgency for 46 years, considered the longest in Asia and the Pacific.In a video message posted on his Facebook, Jose Maria Sison, the CPP founder who is on exile in the Netherlands, said the talks could start in the first half of January 2015.
Sison posted his message on Christmas Day on the eve of the observation of the 49th founding anniversary of the CPP-NPA on Dec.25.
Secretary Teresita Deles, the presidential adviser on the peace process, described Sison’s statement as “very positive” but did not give a timeline when the negotiations would resume.
However, Deles confirmed the two parties have agreed to resume their talks, saying: “Friends of the peace process have been shuttling between the two parties to explore possible parameters for restarting talks at the earliest possible time.”
The resumption of the talks also gained confirmation from the arrival in the Philippines of two leaders of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the Maoists insurgents, that represented them in the peace negotiations hosted by Norway.
Reliable military intelligence sources who requested anonymity, disclosed that former priest Luis Jalandoni, the NDF chief, and his wife Connie Ledesma arrived by plane on Dec.25 on the eve of the observation of the 49th founding anniversary of the CPP-NPA.
Their return came after the government declared a month-long unilateral ceasefire with the Maoists from Dec.19 to Jan.19, 2015 to enable the combatants to spend Christmas and the New Year with their families and loved ones.
Asked if the return of the two NDF leaders was related to persistent talks on the resumption of the peace negotiations, one of the sources said; “I cannot comment on that because it’s a political issue. What I can say is, whatever the government decision on the issue, the military will fully support it.”