Philippines: An agreement by government and CPP-NDF to end the People’s War in 18 months

[Is the Communist Party of the Philippines-NDF is about to join the Prachanda-led forces in Nepal in bringing an end to people’s war and adopting the “peaceful road” strategy?–a strategy which, in other countries, a number of formerly revolutionary parties have proclaimed when becoming parliamentary parties.  While the CPP-NDF has not yet, to our knowledge, spoken directly to this, this article from the Manila Standard raises the question to a public and prominent level. — Frontlines ed.]

Manila Standard Today, February 23, 2011

Govt, Reds target peace treaty by June 2012

by Joyce Pangco Pañares

THE government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front have agreed to sign a final peace agreement by June 2012 to end the communists’ 40-year insurgency.

In a joint communique, government chief negotiator Alexander Padilla and his NDF counterpart, Luis Jalandoni, said both sides agreed to finish drafting agreements on socio-economic, political and constitutional reforms, and on ending hostilities and the disposition of forces, within 18 months.

The two sides issued the statement after a week-long negotiation in Oslo that ended a six-year impasse after talks bogged down in 2004.

Padilla described the talks as “difficult, frank and candid.”

Jalandoni said the negotiations had been “a roller-coaster ride. And until a few moments, no one was quite sure whether the talks [would] end up on a high or low point….”

In a video conference from Oslo, Padilla said he had asked the NDF to consider unilateral ceasefire declarations for the meetings of the working groups.

“We are hoping for future ceasefires, but that would be under negotiation with the NDF,” he said.

“They were not warm to the idea, citing alleged violations of the unilateral ceasefire declarations.”

The rebels would not commit to stopping their collection of “revolutionary taxes” from companies, including those in mining and telecommunications, Padilla said.

“We asserted that the government is the only sovereign taxing entity,” Padilla said.

“Any of them collecting taxes will be arrested.”

Still, Padilla said, the government had released Angelina Ipong, a ranking communist leader, as a “confidence-building measure” and for humanitarian reasons.

Ipong, 66, reportedly the first deputy secretary of the Communist Party’s Western Mindanao regional committee, was arrested in Misamis Occidental in 2005, and had been among the NDF consultants that the communists had wanted released.

Ipong, charged with double murder, double frustrated murder and arson, walked free from the Misamis Occidental provincial jail on Feb. 17.

As part of the peace effort, both panels agreed to reactivate working committees on the comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms.

The government and the communists agreed to form a separate working group on the comprehensive agreement on political and constitutional reforms that will begin meeting in April.

The Maoist-inspired NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging an armed struggle against the government for 42 years.

The military says the NPA’s armed strength has been reduced to less than 5,000 from a peak of 24,000 in the 1980s.

With Florante S. Solmerin and Bloomberg

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