Disagreements on reform outline delay peace talks
OSLO, Norway—Negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front(NDF) hit a snag on Friday over disagreements on the outline of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (Caser).
The session ended around lunch time Friday and negotiators took an early break.
Julie De Lima, chair of the NDF reciprocal committee on socio-economic reforms, said on their part, the outline “should be based on addressing the roots of the armed conflict while the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) wants an outcomes-based outline.”
“We have exchanged with the GRP an outline of a comprehensive draft on social and economic reforms that includes agrarian reform, national industrialization, environmental protection, environmental protection, rights of the working people, foreign economic and trade relations, and, monetary and fiscal policies,” de Lima said.
The NDF disclosed that everything was going well when they were discussing the preamble and declaration of the draft presented by the communist side.
However, another point of contention was raised over the proposed deferring of the bases, scope and applicability part to give way for the inclusion of the nine outcome points of the government.
“It was the GRP who requested the postponement of discussions on the Caser for them to elaborate on their nine-point outcomes-based proposal,” De Lima said.
The outcome points of the government include poverty eradication, environment and climate justice, globally competitive economy, adequate and quality social services, reduced inequalities, peaceful rural communities, food security, living incomes, and gender equality and representation.
Hernani Braganza, government supervising panel member for Caser, said that there was no intent from their side to complicate or delay the discussion on socio-economic reforms.
“We, in the GRP, remain committed to our goal of signing Caser within one year of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term of office. We are optimistic that our counterparts from the NDF share the same goal,” Braganza said.
He added that the government was even committed to further accelerate it.
“In fact, our Reciprocal Working Committee (RWC) on CASER is prepared to wrap up work with the NDF within the six-month timeline agreed upon in Oslo last August,” Braganza said.
Despite the disagreement, both parties decided to pursue the discussions and find a common and shared vision to address the violent conflict.
“We want the outcomes spelled out in Caser because we do not want to limit the discussions only on the root causes of poverty. We also want exhaustive discussions on how we, the GRP and the NDF, can agree on a shared view of the future for the Philippines,” Braganza asserted.
Braganza noted that the intent is not just to address the root causes but to also ensure a better future and quality of life for every Filipino.
“After all, this is what Caser is all about,” he added,” Braganza said.
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