By BicolToday.com Staff
Netherlands, 3April2017 (BicolToday.com) – The Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) have agreed to continue the fourth round of formal peace negotiations and decided to hold its opening ceremony today at the town of Noordwijk in the Netherlands.
The NDFP and the GRP said the opening ceremony of the fourth round of formal peace negotiations have been postponed yesterday, April 2, and both panels have decided to hold the opening ceremony today at 10 o’clock in the morning (five o’clock in the afternoon, Philippine time).
GRP and NDFP peace negotiators have started their first panel-to-panel meeting yesterday, April 2 to set the agenda for the fourth round of formal peace negotiations.
GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III and members Hernani Braganza, Angela Trinidad, Rene Sarmiento and Tony Arellano were seated across the table from NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili and members Coni Ledesma, Benito Tiamzon and Asterio Palima.
NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison and senior adviser Luis Jalandoni were also present.
They also resumed their panel-to-panel discussions late in the afternoon yesterday to explore ways to address the proposed bilateral ceasefire agreement.
The Noordwijk round of talks would focus on socio-economic reforms and the proposed bilateral ceasefire agreement.
The GRP and NDFP negotiating panels announced the opening ceremony of their fourth round of formal talks was postponed to allow discussions on President Rodrigo Duterte’s new instructions to his negotiators.
This is the first time since 2004 the opening ceremony of the formal talks has been postponed by at least a day.
Delays in opening and closing ceremonies of formal talks have happened in the 2011 formal peace talks and in the first three rounds of negotiations with the Duterte government.
The 2011 formal peace talks, the only one under the previous Benigno Aquino government, was very nearly scrapped after long-time NDFP peace consultant Allan Jazmines was abducted by the AFP a few hours before the scheduled opening.
The Norwegian government has acted as the Third Party Facilitator to the GRP-NDFP peace process since 2001.
“I am pleased that representatives of the Philippine Government and the NDFP will meet for a new round of talks. Despite challenges along the way, the parties continue to show their commitment to peace,” Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Førner said.
“This round will focus on issues such as social and economic reforms and a bilateral ceasefire agreement,” Førner added.
The Norwegian Special Envoy to the Philippine peace process, Ambasador Elisabeth Slåttum will serves as the chair of the talks. [With report form Kodao]