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Gov’t seeks broader truce with NDF

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:34:00 11/18/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Government peace negotiators will propose a broader ceasefire agreement with their counterparts in the National Democratic Front (NDF) when the proposed new round of informal discussions pushes through in Norway later this month, Presidential Peace Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Tuesday.

Esperon said the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) panel would push for a halt to the New People’s Army’s attacks on cell sites, mines, and construction sites, extortion activities, liquidations, kidnappings, landmine attacks, and recruitment of minors as combatants.

He said the attacks were “very, very grave” as he dared the communist rebels: “If they claim to be pro-people, why go on with this, three people every week? We hope they change their position, redefining what ceasefire means.”

Esperon was referring to military data showing that on the average the rebels kill three people every week.

“We are indeed considering allowing our panel headed by Nieves Confessor to proceed to Oslo for the talks but we are still fixing or discussing the agenda,” he told a news conference at the Palace, after a meting of the National Security cluster of the Cabinet.

“The informal talks will be the way to go… It’s like an academic discussion, without making formal agreements… There will be no commitments, this is exploratory in nature, opening up of a possible meeting of minds,” he added.

The Philippine government will also raise the concept of DDR or disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, and seek a more effective implementation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), said Esperon, a former military chief of staff.

It is also “very likely” that the rebels’ demand to have the NPA and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison removed from the United States’ and European Union’s terrorist lists will be discussed, the peace adviser said.

Esperon said the Norwegian Ambassador to Manila, Risa Torstein, together with the Norwegian facilitator of the GRP-NDF negotiations, presented to his office last week a proposal for the resumption of the informal discussions.

“We hope they will be very open to that,” Esperon said of the NDF panel.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-11-18T08:52:49+00:00UTC11bUTCTue, 18 Nov 2008 08:52:49 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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