Philippines sets deadline on peace talks pact

NEGOTIATORS for the Philippine Government (GRP) reiterated on Saturday, October 8, their commitment to work closely with their counterparts from the National Democratic Front (NDF) for speedy resolution on issues related to the crafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER).

Supervising panel member for Caser and GRP negotiator Hernani Braganza, in a statement issued to media outlets, said negotiators from the government remains committed to their goal of signing the agreement within a year of the President Rodrigo Duterte’s term of office.

Braganza said they are optimistic that their counterparts from the NDF share the same goal with them.

He added their reciprocal working committee (RWC) on Casers is prepared to wrap up work with the NDF within the six-month timeline agreed upon in Oslo, Norway, last August.

During the resumption of the formal peace negotiations in Oslo, the negotiating panels from the GRP and NDF signed an agreement binding their RWCs on Caser to complete work within a period of six months.

The RWCs in Caser had a conference again in Asker, Norway, on Saturday.

Braganza said the conference was conducted to begin harmonizing their framework and outline for future discussions on socio-economic reforms.

He added the discussion hit an early snag, however, after the NDF refused to include in the outline nine major outcomes that the GRP wanted spelled out on the Caser.

Major outcomes were poverty eradication, environment and climate justice, globally competitive economy, adequate and quality social services, reduced inequalities, peaceful communities, food security, living incomes, and gender equality and representation.

"We want the outcomes spelled out in Caser because we do not want to limit the discussions only on the root causes of poverty. We also want exhaustive discussions on how we, the GRP and the NDF, can agree on a shared view of the future for the Philippines," Braganza said.

Braganza added the government team were hoping that the outcomes they spelled out will not only address the root causes of the armed conflict, but should also bring a better future for every Filipino, as this is what Caser is all about.

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