3rd round of peace talks resumes in Rome

DESPITE conflicting positions on the Marcos burial, the release of political detainees and the ceasefire, among several issues, the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) will push through as planned.

The third round of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the NDF is scheduled on January 18 to 25 in Rome and government panelists said everything is all set for the next phase.

"Yes, as mentioned by Atty. Antonio Arellano and Atty. Rene Sarmiento, consultations are being made," lawyer Angela Librado-Trinidad said Tuesday, December 13.

Trinidad said the third round of discussion will evolve on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (Caser), political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities.

Although some matters will be part of the discussion, these are the substantive agenda that will be tackled during the peace talks.

The government, Trinidad said, has enlisted the recommendations and suggestions of several experts and professors of the University of the Philippines (UP), adding that they are currently helping the panel to substantiate the parts.

Last December 10, the panel has its set of meeting.

Sarmiento, meanwhile, said they have also conducted a stakeholders consultation where government, academe, and non-government organization (NGOs) were invited including the indigenous people (IPs).

It was a consultation on the agreement on political and constitutional reforms.

"Why the consultation with stakeholders because we believe in the Columbia final agreement that citizen participation is a must in the peace settlement," Sarmiento said.

Arellano recalled that during the first round of talks in August, both parties made an agreement to resume talks of peace as it was an opportunity to look for solutions to the decades-long insurgency problem.

While on the second round, the panels agreed on what issues to be tackled and what solution should be sought as well as coming up with common outlines.

"After that, we did a lot of work of flexing out these issues and I think we've done a lot of good work," Arellano said.

He added that they will meet again with his committee Thursday, December 15, to finalize the draft document on the end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

"We're almost through with the document we will just fine tune it," he said.
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