NDFP and GRP agree to reopen peace talks

This article is available in Pilipino

The Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and senior cabinet and military officials of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) separately announced on November 28 plans to reopen peace talks. They publicized the joint statement signed by the NDFP Negotiating Panel and the GRP last November 23 in Oslo, Norway.

Comrade Julie de Lima, head of the NDF Negotiating Panel, addressed the public and read statements together with other members Comrade Coni Ledesma, and Nonoy Palima, and Ka Luis Jalandoni, senior adviser.

The Oslo Joint Statement is a declaration of intent or desire to reopen the talks and on how it will be carried out. It is a general declaration that combined the aspirations of both sides: the resolution of “deep-rooted socio-economic and political issues” and “resolving the roots of the armed conflict,” on the part of the NDFP; and on the other side, the “end of the armed struggle” and “transformation of the CPP-NPA-NDFP,” which the GRP aims for.

“The Joint Declaration signed by both the NDFP and the GRP is significant in itself and opens doors to many potentials and futures in the pursuit of a just and lasting peace in our homeland and for the welfare of our people,” said Ka Luis Jalandoni, member of the NDFP National Executive Council, on the day the joint statement was signed. He said, both parties are ready to continue negotiations while “adhering to the successes and learning from the lessons of the past.”

The joint statement is the product of a series of informal discussions held in the Netherlands and Norway. These started as early as 2022 between emissaries of the GRP and the NDFP with the help of the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG). It was signed for the GRP side by Special Assistant to the President Antonio Ernesto F. Lagdameo Jr., the emissary Gen. Emmanuel T. Bautista (Ret) and Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. On the NDFP side, Ka Julie, Ka Luis, Ka Coni, and Ka Nonoy signed. The signing was witnessed by RNG Special Envoy Christina Lie Revheim.

The NDFP thanked the RNG for its steadfast support and persistent efforts to bring the two parties together for renewed talks. Norway’s foreign minister Espen Barth Eide and other officials attended the signing ceremony in Oslo.

Full of thorns and spikes

While the CPP welcomed the negotiating panel’s signing of the joint statement, it said the path to opening the talks, and especially towards a just and lasting peace, is filled with thorns and spikes.

This is only the first half step to reopening negotiations. It may lead to the actual reopening of peace talks, and also possibly not.

“There are peace talks because there is a war,” explained Marco Valbuena, chief information officer of the CPP. “The NDFP and GRP represent two co-belligerent sides of the civil war in the Philippines. They are adversaries and represent diametrically opposed interests and goals, but meet in negotiations under the declared objective of achieving a just and lasting peace.”

According to Ka Julie, the talks are confronted with practical matters such as the terrorist designation of the GRP to CPP, NPA, NDFP and also Ka Luis. Also, the NDFP will find it difficult to negotiate if its consultants who have been illegally arrested and imprisoned by the GRP for the past six years remain in jail.

NDFP and GRP agree to reopen peace talks