NDF to RP govt: Address priority issues in peace talks

By Macel Ingles, ABS-CBN Europe Bureau

Posted at Jun 18 2012 09:21 AM | Updated as of Jun 18 2012 05:21 PM

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said that it is open to further talks with the Philippine government if it is serious with addressing the priority issues that the NDFP raised in the recent meeting between the two parties in Norway.

The Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) have agreed to move foward with the peace process by signing a joint statement at a two-day meeting held in Oslo last June 14 and 15.

In the brief joint statement signed after the  meeting,  both parties "agreed to continue meaningful discussions of concerns and issues raised by both sides.. to pave the way for the resumption of the formal talks in the peace negotiations in order to resolve the armed conflict and attain and just and lasting peace."

NDFP Chief Negotiator Luis Jalandoni answers questions on the peace talks in an ABS-CBN Europe interview in Oslo. Photo courtesy of Macel Ingles

The statement was signed by Alexander Padilla who heads the negotiating panel for the Philippine government and Luis Jalandoni, chief negotiator for the NDFP. It was witnessed by the Norwegian  Ambassador Ture Lundh as third party facilitator to the peace negotiations and former senator Wigberto E. Tanada who joined the meeting as observer.

"This meeting opens the way for further meeting on priority issues, on the NDFP it means raising the issues of the release of  356 political prisoners  and the release of 14 detained NFFP consultants," Luis Jalandoni, chief negotiator for the NDFP told ABS-CBN Europe in an exclusive interview.

But he slammed the Philippine government's response to the issues being raised by the NDFP in the meeting saying that it merely paid " lip service that they will work for the release of the political prisoners" and that it has "raised objection to the release of NDFP consultants."

He also questioned the seriousness of the government to pursue the peace process.

However, he also said that the NDFP is "still hoping the peace negotiations could be moved forward for the benefit of the people,  but also cautioned that the future of the talks will "not be positive if the Aquino government continues to go on with its anti-people and anti-national policies " citing the issues of extrajudicial killings, demolition of urban poor homes, and oil price hikes.

The formal talks between both parties grounded to a halt last year when the NDFP called for the postponement of the talks scheduled in June pending the government's action on the release of political prisoners and its detained political consultants.

The formal peace talks between the Philippine government and NDFP facilitated by the Royal Norwegian government resumed in February  last year breaking an impasse since 2005.

The Royal Norwegian government has served as a third party facilitator to the peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines since 2001.