FOUR years since its termination under the Duterte administration, peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and representatives of the 54-year-old armed insurgency movement has been revived with the signing of the Oslo Joint Communiqué.
In a news conference in Malacañang last Tuesday, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) Carlito G. Galvez Jr. announced the agreement will pave the way to a resolution of its war with the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The communique will establish the parameters for the final peace agreement between the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF), whose members represent the CPP-NPA in negotiations. It was signed on November 23 by Secretary Antonio F. Lagdameo Jr. and NDF Chairman Luis G. Jalandoni in Oslo, Norway.
“We are very confident, I’m very confident that there is something that after this joint statement we can finally end up with a final peace agreement,” Galvez said.
“I take this opportunity to call all Filipinos to unite and fully support our President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., and your government in this most noble endeavor to finally realize our collective and shared aspiration of a peaceful, prosperous, and united country,” he added.
Galvez said the representatives of the GRP and the NDF are currently in The Netherlands discussing the protocols for future exploratory discussions.
Pending the completion of the peace talks, National Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro said all “security law enforcement programs of the government” related to the CPP-NPA-NDF will continue.
Teodoro said this includes the “traditional” ceasefire between GRP and forces of the CPP-NPA-NDF during the Christmas holidays.
“I had occasion to answer the question yesterday that we leave it to the local peace and order councils and the area commanders, unit commanders to determine whether or not they will suspend operations in their area of responsibility,” said the chief of the Department of National Defense.
According to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Gen. Romeo S. Brawner Jr., there are currently 20 weakened guerrilla fronts in the country. Brawner added they expect five of these 20 to finally “dissolve.”
“So it will be 15 guerrilla [fronts].”
In 2019, former President Rodrigo R. Duterte officially terminated the government peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF citing the groups’ alleged acts of violence and lack of sincerity in the negotiations.
In its Resolution 28, the Anti-Terrorism Council of the Philippines designated the underground organizations of the CPP-NPA-NDF as “terrorist groups (TGs) of persons, organizations or associations” in 2022, a year after branding the CPP-NPA-NDF as a TGs.