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MindaNews: NDF open to resumption of peace talks with GRP

November 5, 2008 11:12pm
UTRECHT, The Netherlands - The National Democratic Front (NDF) is open to the resumption of their own talks with the Philippine government despite the current impasse in the GRP-MILF (Government of the Republic of the Philippines-Moro Islamic Liberation Front) negotiations.

NDF Negotiating Panel chair Luis Jalandoni told representatives of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and the Davao-based Initiatives for International Dialogue that it is up to the government to proceed with the talks.

Jalandoni said the peace negotiation is still on and it is only the talks that are suspended.

The NDF is currently awaiting the response of the government to a 13-point list of demands for the resumption of the talks. Among these demands are discussions on the de-listing of the NDF in the terror list, the re-activation of the Joint Monitoring Committee and release of its arrested members.

Jalandoni said that not all points need to be addressed all at the same time.
Back-channel talks have however resumed on the initiative of Norway, the third party facilitator.

Recently, an inter-faith group called the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform and led by Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma also visited the NDF in Utrecht to explore ways on how the talks can be resumed.

The NDF says it is always open to talks, but said it is a different thing to accept an agreement citing the botched MOA-AD (Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain) between the MILF and government.

The NDF meanwhile bemoaned the incapacity of its government counterpart panel to make any decisions claiming it has no mandate.

Jalandoni also revealed ongoing plans of Norway to initiate joint academic forums that may help nudge the talks' resumption. He, however, stressed that these should not be mixed with actual informal negotiations.

Jalandoni invited GPPAC and IID to participate in these forums as part of a "third party" process. One such forum would be held in Oslo soon.

GPPAC is a global civil society network involved in conflict prevention and peace-building initiatives. It was launched at the UN headquarters in New York in July 2005.

The Philippine GPPAC is the Waging Peace Philippines network of which the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW) is a member. - MindaNews

(Gus Miclat is executive director of IID and the GPPAC Southeast Asia regional initiator)