Straits Times, December 3, 2010
Philippines, Maoists to resume talks
MANILA – The Philippines and Maoist rebels have agreed to resume peace talks early next year, officials said on Friday, the first breakthrough in tackling either of two long-running insurgencies since the new government came to office this year.
After two days of informal talks in Hong Kong on Wednesday and Thursday, the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) also agreed on a 19-day Christmas ceasefire starting December 16, which if it holds would be the longest in 10 years.
Right: Relatives and friends hold photos of loved ones among the 43 men and women arrested earlier in the year as suspected communist rebels during a rally in front of the Department of Justice in Manila.
There have been on-off talks since 1986 to end an insurgency that began in the 1960s and has killed 20,000 people and scared off potential investors in resource-rich rural communities.
Alexander Padilla, the government’s chief peace negotiator, told reporters the two sides would have another informal meeting next month ahead of the resumption of formal talks in Oslo, Norway in February. ‘This would again be the first of such talks after having been suspended last August 2005,’ he said, adding the government is committed to a ‘just and honourable settlement of conflicts’.
In a statement, NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni reiterated the Maoists’ call for the release of 43 health workers detained on suspicion of being rebels and three rebel leaders who it says are part of the negotiations.