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Peace talks set in PH

For the first time in 32 years of efforts to forge peace between the government and the Communist movement, formal negotiations will be held on April 20 on Philippine soil.

Discussions on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms, or Caser – said to be the “heart and soul of the ongoing peace talks between the GRP and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF),” will be staged either at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) or at a venue to be provided by Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, who is himself, a member of the government team of Caser.

The representatives of the GRP and NDF will be discussing, under a realm of formal peace negotiations, matters on genuine land reform, rural development, national industrialization and foreign policy.

Whatever they agree on would eventually be tackled and approved in the fifth round of the talks, which return to Noorwicjk, The Netherlands in late May or early June.

And while the talks on Caser will just part of the entire peace talks, the significance that they will be held in Manila is not lost on the negotiators.

“Definitely, this will happen. Socio-economic reforms will be settled in the country at our level,” government Caser group head Roberto Dator said.

The CPP and New People’s Army (NPA) were formed in 1968, and since then, attempts to forge peace between the Philippine government and the Communist group have taken place in the administration of five Philippines presidents – from Corazon Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Joseph Estrada and Benigno Aquino III.

All attempts to forge peace with the rebels in those administrations, all held in foreign counties on account of CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison being on exile in The Netherlands, failed.

Now comes, this attempt to achieve peace under the administration of President Duterte.

Under Duterte, the talks have progressed beyond the more than 40 rounds undertaken by peace panels under his predecessors.

That talks on the Caser have come this far, and that they will be held in Manila, will prove to be a big deal among those who have faithfully followed the talks between these two parties for decades. (ROCKY NAZARENO)