Peace advocates say GPH-CPP talks won’t be easy, won’t be quick

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has been leading the insurgency for 47 years with no end in sight until President Rodrigo Duterte took over and personally handled the peace process.

Stakeholders said Monday there's a marked difference between the way the Duterte government is handling the peace process and how the previous administrations have tackled the negotiations in the past.

Soliman Santos, a former lawyer for a regional branch of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) during talks under the late President Corazon Aquino, believes one key difference is that the previous administrations and the rebels approached the talks for temporary gain.

“It was, in my view, an approach to peace as tactics under a war strategy for both sides,” said Santos, who is now a judge.

“Very clearly, the factor is the new President himself, his attitude towards the Left of which he claims some affinity with if not organizationally, in terms of advocacies,” he said. “He says he's a socialist and thats not too far from socioeconomic agenda of NDF.”

Father Christopher Ablon of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform said they've been pushing for peace since 2007. One major difference between Duterte and previous presidents is the trust he has gained from the rebels over the years when he served as mayor of Davao City.

Ablon said he is happy with recent developments, but advises caution and vigilance among everyone involved to keep the peace process from backtracking.

He said there have been indications that talks won’t go as smoothly as many expected, citing the rescheduling of the formal resumption of the talks from early to late July to August, and the planned meeting between Duterte and communist party founder Jose Maria Sison that has not yet taken place.

Also read: Duterte gov’t, NDF set peace talks for July

“These are signs that the peace negotiations as we have known it is not that easy and it will not be that fast,” Ablon said. “We should not be in … euphoria that Duterte will create magic for us.”

[Insert article re Duterte not ready to release all CPP-NDFP officials until peace talks conclude]

Bello: NDF wants early start to formal peace talks

Retired General Raymundo Jarque, who once hunted down New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas on Negros Island and later became a supporter of the talks and a consultant for the NDF, believes Duterte sees how the conflict affects the poor.

He said, however, that even if the peace process takes decades, the issues still have to be discussed properly until a final agreement is reached by the two sides.

Jarque claimed he was a victim of injustice. He sought “asylum” in the rebel movement in 1995 after he was accused of stealing a ton of prawns.

He said the peace process should be given a chance to succeed.

“For the first time [the] Philippine government and President Duterte initiated this set up by inviting leftist and other progressive to join the government in attaining peace,” Jarque said.

The resumption of the talks have been set in Oslo, Norway. The Norwegian government is brokering the talks.

The talks would cover a planned Amnesty Proclamation for all political prisoners and detainees which requires concurrence by Congress. Socio-economic as well as political and constitutional reforms will also be discussed, plus a ceasefire.

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