Bilateral meetings on CASER, not formal talks

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“NO FORMAL negotiations between the Negotiating Panels or of the Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms (RWC-SER) shall be held in the Philippines.”

This was the clarification made by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) RWC-SER member Alan Jazmines after the article “Peace Talks in the Philippines” published in the Manila Bulletin on April 13, 2017, reported that formal peace negotiations between the Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front would be held in the Philippines on April 20, 2017.

Jazmines declared that any formal negotiations between the Negotiating Panels in the country is contrary to the letter and spirit of The Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) with regard to the holding of peace negotiations in a foreign neutral venue.

Jazmines continued. “What will be held in Manila are meetings of bilateral teams to assist the RWC-SER of both parties in clarifying and reconciling certain contentious issues in the NDFP and GRP CASER drafts. Their output will still be submitted to their respective RWCs-SER for approval. It bears stressing that these meetings are not “formal negotiations.”

The Hague Joint Declaration and the Agreement on the Formation, Operationalization and Sequencing of the RWCs mandates the RWCs-SER to draft the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) which would be then submitted to their respective Negotiating Panels for formal negotiations, approval and signing.  Another agreement with regard to the ground rules on the formal meetings of the RWC-SER signed during the third round of talks held last January in Rome stipulates that the formal meetings of the RWC-SER shall be held “simultaneous with, and in the same venue as the formal meetings of the negotiating panels.

“We share in the optimism that peace can be achieved once the much-needed social and economic reforms that squarely address the root causes of the armed conflict are genuinely undertaken,” Jazmines concluded.

The 5th round of talks will be held on May 26- June 2, 2017 in Noorwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands and will focus on CASER as the main agenda. ###

Alan Jazmines, Randal Echanes
Members of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Socio-Economic Reforms
Contact Number: + 63 949 137 7260

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