GRP-NDFP Latest News & Update: Peace Groups Laud Signing Of Interim Joint Ceasefire

Peace group lauds resumption of GRP-NDFP talks, signing of interim joint ceasefire; seeks inclusion of ‘civilian voice’ in peace process

(Statement by the Initiatives for International Dialogue – IID on 4th Round of Talks in The Netherlands)

The Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) today lauds the resumption of formal peace negotiation between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and congratulates both negotiating panels for the signing of the agreement to forge an interim joint ceasefire agreement in their 4th round of talks held from April 3-6 in Noordwijk, The Netherlands with the Royal Norwegian Government as the third party facilitator. With great relief, we can say that the nation’s desire for a just and lasting peace is indeed back on track.

For us, while the signing of the agreement for an interim joint ceasefire still awaits approval and signing of guidelines and ground rules, every little progress in the peace negotiation matters as it brings the whole country and its people closer to genuine peace and development. The signing of the interim joint ceasefire agreement is a remarkable achievement and we, peacebuilders and civil society organizations in the Philippines, continue to express our unequivocal support to all these peace initiatives and hope that this momentum for peacemaking between the two parties will continue.

The 4th Round of of Talks in the Netherlands has validated two things: First, the success of the talks is proof that tremendous obstacles and differences between two parties can still be settled by talking in sincere dialogue at the negotiating table; and secondly, the broad peace movement who clamored for the resumption of peace talks when it was about to collapse last February and the sustained peace advocacy of communities affected by the decades of armed-conflict are exactly the ‘compelling reasons’ for the continuation of the peace negotiation. Now, the revival of the peace talks has become an opportunity not only for the negotiating panels, but more importantly for the people to come out even more openly and articulate their vision for peace.

IID however reiteratesits resolve that to achieve a more sustainable peace and genuine development for the country, the root causes of the armed conflict must be addressed and key economic reforms implemented as soon as possible with the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) as a guiding framework. CASER, we believe, is essential to the success of the peace talks as this agreement will further brighten the prospects for genuine peace. Being the most substantive agenda in the negotiation, it addresses the root causes of conflict and will reflect the voices of the most vulnerable and marginalized sectors of Philippine society. We are glad that the pending agenda in the formal talks are geared towards these issues and both parties have reiterated that this is indeed the “heart and soul” of the talks.

We also urge both panels to devise a mechanism where they could embed and broaden voices from the ground: the lament and proposals of the victims of the armed conflict, women and children, the indigenous peoples and other sectors who, for the last five decades, have been mostly at the receiving end of this prolonged armed-conflict.

As part of the broader movement for peace in the Philippines, we are optimistic and hopeful that the 5th round of talks inMay 27 to June 2 in The Netherlands will again be another milestone.