Bid to restart talks with NDF fails
Rebels say gov’t ‘not interested’
MANILA, Philippines — Efforts to resume to formal peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels bogged down during an informal meeting in Norway last week, with the National Democratic Front (NDF) accusing the government of being “not at all interested in peace negotiations.”
Among the main bones of contention was the extent of a ceasefire, with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) panel pushing for a “prolonged” ceasefire and the NDF preferring an “immediate” truce effective only for the duration of every formal meeting, Fidel Agcaoili, spokesman of the rebel negotiating panel, said in a statement.
Deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez declined to comment on the matter, saying he has yet to contact the GRP panel. Presidential adviser on the peace process Hermogenes Esperon Jr. did not return calls on his mobile phone.
“The Arroyo regime is not at all interested in peace negotiations. All illusions must be cast away. The regime is solely interested in destroying or debilitating the revolutionary movement…It is highly unlikely that there would ever be formal meetings of the GRP and NDF negotiating panels while Arroyo is in power,” Agcaoili said.
The two peace panels met for informal talks in Oslo from November 27 to 30, Agcaoili said.
Former labor secretary Nieves Confessor headed the GRP panel. The NDF panel is chaired by Luis Jalandoni.
Agcaoili said the NDF sees the government’s prolonged ceasefire proposal as a ploy to “convert the peace negotiations into negotiations of surrender and pacification under the pretext of ceasefire.”
Formal peace negotiations between the government and the communist rebels bogged down in mid-2004, after the insurgents protested their inclusion in the United States’ and European Union’s lists of terrorist organizations.
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