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Philippines peace talks

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Peace talks between the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) resumed in Oslo on 22 August 2016. The opening ceremony began with a brief introductory speech by the Special Ambassador to the Philippine Peace Process, Elisabeth Slattum welcoming the two delegations and expressing the hope that the resumption of the talks will prove to be a firm foundation for the negotiations ahead. She was followed by Norwegian Foreign Minister, Boerge Brende, who welcomed the delegations on behalf of the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) that had acted as a facilitator in the peace negotiations. Noting that the armed conflict between the GPH and the NDF had been one of the longest conflicts in the world, he said that the negotiations will be difficult and time-consuming. Expressing the support of the RNG for the negotiations, he expressed the hope that the parties would succeed in coming to grips with the substantive issues and reach important agreements.

Following the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Secretary Jesus Dureza, Special Advisor on the Peace Process, representing President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Professor Jose María Sisón, NDFP chief political consultant, made their opening statements.

Dureza said that the conflict had been going on for more than 30 years and it was time to end it.

The Presidency of Mr Duterte is a new element which brings some hope for the success of the present talks. Sisón said that the NDFP was optimistic that objective conditions and subjective factors in the Philippines were more favourable than ever before to carrying out the peace negotiations and reaching the goal of a just and lasting peace through basic social and economic reforms.

Continuing, Sisón said: “For the first time in the history of the Philippines, a President has emerged by denouncing the abuses of the oligarch and the folly and servility to foreign powers and by using street language and the methods of the mass movement. He is proud to describe himself as the first left president and as a socialist, willing to seek common ground and cooperation with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.”

He went on to express the willingness of “the CPP, NPA and NDFP in pursuing the just cause of national and social liberation against foreign and feudal domination.”

The reforms, he said, would involve, inter alia, the abrogation of unequal treaties and agreements, democratic empowerment of the working people, social justice, economic development through national industrialisation and land reform; free public education, a patriotic and progressive culture; international solidarity of all peoples and trade and diplomatic relations with all countries.

Just ending the hostilities, he said, was not enough. There must be a “just peace”based on reforms that “lift the people from the morass of underdevelopment, social injustice and poverty”. In the pursuit of such reforms, he ended, ” we can have truce and cooperation and form a government of national unity, peace and development.

On this occasion, LALKAR sends its best wishes to the CPP, NPA and NDFP for the successful outcome of these talks

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