DAVAO CITY—The team of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will hold preliminary talks with Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NDFP) head Jose Maria Sison in Oslo, Norway next week for the resumption of the formal talks in July.
NDFP Spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili confirmed the Oslo meet with the aim to discuss Duterte’s recent pronouncements about granting of general amnesty to political prisoners, the possibility of having an interim ceasefire from both sides, and accelerating the peace negotiations.
Aside from Sison and Agcaoili, the meeting will also be attended by Luis Jalandoni, Connie Ledesma and two lawyers from the CPP-NDF side. Duterte’s team will be composed of incoming Secretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), incoming Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who will possibly serve as consultant on the peace talks with the Reds, former Rep. Hernani Braganza and Carla Munsayac of OPAPP.
In an interview with Dureza on Wednesday evening, it was learned that the meeting is also timed with the holding of the Oslo Forum on June 14-15, a periodic meeting of global leaders in peace efforts where he was invited.
Dureza said that when the Norwegian government learned he is going to play a key role in the peace efforts in the incoming administration they also decided to invite the key members of the CPP-NDFP.
Dureza said the meeting is an opportunity for them that even before “we assumed into office we will be reconnected with our counterparts.” “This is not formal talks because we are not empowered yet,” he clarified.
Dureza said this will also be a venue for both sides to discuss some issues informally “so when we assume office we have a little road map to pursue after June 30.”
He said that with the guidance of Duterte they have crafted a roadmap taking into account the current situation.
Dureza was careful to make further statements on the government’s peace efforts until Duterte officially sits in Malacañang.
He however made sure that everything passes through consultations with the guidance of the President and stakeholders, recognizing that lessons can be learned from previous peace talks. Dureza said success stories from previous peace talks will be duplicated.
Dureza said they will be more transparent in the negotiations. “We will be more transparent that immediately after each engagement we will make the public know,” he said.
Agcaoili, who was in town to speak before members of the Civil Society Organizations and barangay leaders in the Multisectoral Conversation on Peace dubbed “When Blue Meets Red” at the Ateneo de Davao University, also had a long meeting with Duterte on Tuesday night until the early morning of Wednesday at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan.
Agcaoili disclosed that one of the things he discussed with Duterte was the possible meeting with Sison in The Netherlands when Duterte travels to Europe.
However, Agcaoili said the meeting of Duterte and Sison would not happen in the earliest time.
Agcaoili said Duterte wanted to consolidate his hold on the presidency after assuming the Office of the President before he leaves the country.
Meanwhile, in his video message played before the media on Wednesday evening, Sison lauded Duterte for his act of goodwill and show of trust and confidence and encouraged the legal national and democratic forces to select their nominees for government positions.
“President-elect Duterte has long demonstrated that he has the strength of character, the political will and determination to engage the revolutionary forces and what is good for the people,” said Sison.
He was also contented on the outcomes of the meetings between Duterte and Agcaoili, who plays his emissary.
He said the three remaining items in the substantive agenda of the peace negotiations are social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of the armed forces for which the negotiating panels must produce the comprehensive agreements on each of the items.
Sison said the most crucial factor for the success of the peace process is the mutual determination of the Duterte government and the NDFP to exercise necessary political will to adopt the long overdue basic reforms, especially in the face of worsening crisis of the world capitalist system and the domestic ruling system that is inflicting suffering on the Filipino people.