2nd round of peace talks moved earlier

A MEMBER of the Philippine Government Peace Panel said the schedule of the second round of peace talks on to October 6 to 10 in Oslo, Norway instead of October 8 to 12 is a welcome move as it fast tracks the process.

"It is good news that we are going back, yet it is more good news that we are setting it earlier, meaning there is no problem with both parties in the negotiating table," lawyer Angela Librado said during the Kapehan Sa Dabaw media forum held at the SM-Annex City Davao on Sunday, September 19.

Librado said one of the prime considerations of the re-scheduling was the availability of Secretary Silvestre Bello III who will attend an important function for the Department of Labor and Employment slated October 13 and 15.

"Now we have a lot of panel members doing a lot of work for double tasking for the government and the other party also agreed with the setting. I am also informed that Royal Norweigan Government is amenable to it," Librado said.

The second round of peace talks will be held at the Holmenfjord Hotel in Oslo, Norway.

Librado added they are currently exchanging drafts with the other panel to complete the final draft of the bilateral ceasefire which is one primary document that both parties will approve on in the second round of the talks.

Both parties have given 60 days to draft and finalize bilateral ceasefire agreement as it is one of the things they want to achieve in the second round.

"This (agreement) is crucial to both parties because it will enable the parties to go around, conduct consultations, seek advice from sectors, all stakeholders, and duty bearers on the substantive agenda of socio-economic reforms," Librado said.

Comprehensive Agreement in Socio-Economic Reforms would answer the root cause of the insurgency, thus, making it the most important agreement.

Librado added the finalization of the bilateral ceasefire does mean that the there are no spoilers.

"It would not mean that there will be spoilers and issues along the way but a unified agreement will be very helpful so that we can beat our deadline and come up with substantive agreements in the next few months," Librado said.

She added the Joint Monitoring Committee for the ceasefire for both panels are holding meetings to jointly discuss the guidelines of the ceasefire considering the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, one of the agreements that the two panels re-affirmed during the first round of the talks. (KVC)

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