Peace panel given 12 months to finish talks with CPP-NDFP

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MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES: A New Peoples Army (NPA) rebel base somewhere in the jungle. Before entering the base area all outsiders including foreign journalists have to remove the batteries from their cell-phones.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) peace panel has only 12 months to finish the talks and come to an agreement with Communist Party of the Philippines – National Democratic Front (CPP-NDFP).

Hernani Braganza, a senior member of the GRP peace panel said agreements made in the last three administrations must prevail.

“We are only given 12 months to finish the job,” Braganza told reporters on Saturday.

Braganza said they have marching orders to finish, through peace talks, the longest-running insurgency in Asia.

“We, in the peace panel under the Duterte administration are veterans of peace talks and what we need is to continue what we have finish[ed] to end the 47 years of insurgency in the country.”

Exclusive: Efforts to resume peace talks underway - NDF

Braganza, together with GRP chairman, Silvetre “Bebot” Bello III and Jess Dureza, went to the Netherlands to convince Jose Maria Sison and Luis Jalandoni to come home for peace talks.

As agreed by both the government and the NDFP panels, formal peace negotiations between the government and NDF will resume in the third week of July in Oslo, Norway.

Safe conduct pass for CPP-NDFP consultants, staff

Braganza said the government is willing to get a safe conduct pass from the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) for at least 21 CPP-NDFP consultants and their staff. They are presently detained as political prisoners.

“When you talk about the JASIG, hindi lang yung mga ilalabas sa kulungan, pati yung mga tao nila that will comprise their experts na haharap sa experts ng mga gobyerno,” Braganza said. “Yung security personnel nila, yung secretariat nila will also be covered by JASIG so that they can also move freely and consult with their constituency.”

[Translation: When you talk about JASIG, it’s not just about those who will be moved out of jail. It includes their staff, as their team of experts who will face the government’s experts. Their security personnel and their secretariat will also be covered by JASIG so that they can also move freely and consult with their constituency.]

Also read: CPP lauds the incoming Duterte government's peace efforts

According to Braganza, there are 543 political prisoners from CPP-NDFP as of the moment — 18 were NDFP consultants who reportedly covered by JASIG, 88 were ailing, and 48 were already in their senior years. Braganza said panels would carefully assess who to include in the amnesty list.

Also read: Duterte seeks general amnesty for political prisoners

But is amnesty possible for all political prisoners on the CPP-NDFP side? Braganza said there are two ways that could happen — one is through legislation, the other is through amnesty granted by the President of the Philippines.

In both cases, however, Congress would have to approve the amnesty.

Also read: Duterte gov’t eyes ceasefire with NPA before first SONA