MALACAÑANG on Wednesday welcomed the appointment of Norwegian diplomat Idun Tvedt as the new special envoy to the peace process between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF).
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Duterte administration was optimistic that Tvedt's vast expertise in the field of peace and reconciliation would help the Philippine government and the communist insurgents find a peaceful resolution of their decades-long political differences.
"We welcome the appointment of Norwegian diplomat Idun Tvedt as the new special envoy to the peace process between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines," Abella said in a statement.
"Ms. Tvedt's range of knowledge and experience in peace and reconciliation will greatly aid in our peace process initiatives. We look forward to working with her as we seek a pacific resolution to the deeply rooted conflicts in the country," he added.
The armed conflict between the Philippine government and the communist movement's armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), has been ongoing for almost 50 years.
Norway has served as a facilitator of the peace process between the two parties since 2001.
On Tuesday, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila announced in a statement that Tvedt replaced Elisabeth Slåttum, who just ended her three-year term as special envoy.
Prior to her new assignment, Tvedt spent her career in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the areas of human rights and peace.
She also served as a member of the facilitation team of the Norwegian Embassy in Bogota, which is responsible for the peace process between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia.
The Norwegian Embassy said Tvedt would be visiting Manila this week in her capacity as the new facilitator of the Philippine government and NDF’s peace process.
The Philippines government’s peace negotiators and NDF consultants were scheduled to resume peace negotiations from May 27 to June 1 but President Rodrigo Duterte scrapped the talks following NPA’s series of attacks against the government forces.
Despite his pronouncement, Duterte was flip-flopping on his decision to terminate the peace dialogue with the communists as he still pinned hope that the communist rebels would comply with his conditions in order to resume the talks.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., in a chance interview with Palace reporters, was still optimistic about the possible revival of talks.
Esperon said the peace negotiations might proceed if the communist group heeds to Duterte’s appeal.
"We must be able to shepherd the peace process with the [communists] if they are still willing to go by the terms of a respectable peace process. We must shepherd our peace process," he said on the sidelines of turnover ceremony of Russian weapons to the Philippines held at Port of Manila. (SunStar Philippines)