Rome. - The third round of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) was a success.
This was the assessment of Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, who attended the talks as adviser of the GRP Peace Panel.
"We are moving forward. Extensive discussions on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) took place and common grounds have been agreed upon. In fact, the ground rules on CASER were finalized and signed. The agenda on CASER, the heart-and-soul of the peace process to end the almost 5-decade war, has taken off and it is only a matter of time coupled by patient and perseverance before a final agreement on this most important agenda is finalized," Pamintuan said.
The NDFP together with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People's Army (NPA) have been waging a peasant-based "protracted people's revolution" in the rural areas of the Philippines since 1969. The nearly 5-decade guerilla war has resulted in the death of almost 50,000 Filipinos, both from the side of the government and the revolutionaries.
Another major "breakthrough" of the 3rd round of talks in Rome, Italy was the signing of the supplemental guidelines of the Joint Monitoring Committee for the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws (CARHRIHL), which was signed in 1998.
"It is just the 3rd round and we can already see the fruits of our labor. We shall push the peace talks until to its final conclusion, that is the end to the armed hostilities and the implementation of the social, economic, political and constitutional reforms," Pamintuan said.
During the talks, the GRP also formally presented to the NDFP the draft Bilateral Ceasefire Agreement. A formal discussion on the matter has been scheduled this February in The Netherlands.
The 3rd round of the peace talks culminated in the signing of the Joint Statement of both panels. The signatories for the GRP were Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, former Secretary Hernani Braganza, Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad, Atty. Rene Sarmiento, Prof. Sedfrey Candelaria and Mayor Pamintuan as GRP Panel adviser, while for the NDFP were Panel Chairman Fidel Agcaoili, Connie Ledesma-Jalandoni, Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, Asterio Palima and Luis Jalandoni. The closing statement was also signed by officials of the Royal Norwegian Government led by Special Envoy Elisabeth Slättum.