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GPH chief negotiator seeks support of CSOs in NDF peace talks

CSO representatives listens to Panel Chair Alexander Padilla during a meeting Quezon City
Manila, Aug. 11 – Government of the Philippines (GPH) chief negotiator Alexander Padilla has sought the support of civil society organizations (CSOs) in advancing the peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).

Padilla recently met with civil society representatives as part of the national consultation of the GPH peace panel with various sectors. Held at the Regalia Tower Suites in Quezon City, the meeting was also attended by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles and GPH panel chair for Talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Marvic Leonen, who also gave updates and discussed recent issues on the peace process.

Padilla said, “There’s not enough of a peace constituency that will push both sides to really work for peace and reach a final peace settlement.”

CSO representatives listens to Panel Chair Alexander Padilla during a meeting Quezon City

GPH Peace Panel for NDF Talks Alexander Padilla

“We seek the support of civil society organizations to take an active part in helping the two tables arrive at a peace settlement that is just, attainable and truly lasting,” he added.

Padilla gave an overview and updates on the peace negotiations between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF. He also answered the queries of CSOs on the issues of the NPA's use of landmines and their drafting of child soldiers, the handling of rebel returnees, and the recent release of political prisoners by the government as a confidence-building measure.

“We don’t believe in winning through force or violence; in the same way, the NDF can never win through armed struggle,” explained Padilla. “It is through a negotiated political settlement that we can sincerely conclude a political agreement, regain peace and make room for development in the country.”

On political detainees

During the meeting, Padilla clarified issues surrounding the NDFP’s request for releases in accordance to the Oslo Joint Statement of February 21, 2011 and the Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG): “The government is under no obligation to release all detainees as requested by NDF. What was stated in the Oslo Joint Statement is that the government will work for their release, meaning, subject to verification and after undergoing due process.”

Padilla said that the government is firm on its intent to pursue the peace talks. But, he added, the talks should be based on clear terms of commitment coming not just from the government but also from the side of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
“So far, there have been no pronouncements from the NDF that they are pursuing a true path to peace. It would seem that the peace process is being used only to take advantage of the government’s willingness to communicate with them and to get their jailed comrades released,” he said.

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