June 20, 2018
UTRECHT, The Netherlands – Representatives of the NDFP Negotiating Panel headed by Chairman Fidel V. Agcaoili and representatives of the GRP headed by GRP Negotiating Panel Member Hernani A. Braganza met in Utrecht, The Netherlands on June 18-20, 2018. The GRP representatives sought to explain to the NDFP the decision of the GRP to postpone the mutually approved schedule of the formal meetings in the peace negotiations to take place in Oslo, Norway on June 28-30, 2018.
Representatives of the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG), including Special Envoy Idun Tvedt, sat in the meetings in their role as Third Party Facilitator (TPF).
The meeting could not start on time on June 18 because the GRP team had to seek clarification from its Principal of the statement made by GRP Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that the Third Party Facilitator had been dismissed. With the role of the TPF clarified, the meeting begun in the afternoon of the first day. The NDFP side assured the other side that the NDFP principal took note of the clarification. The role of the TPF is of key importance while there is need to hold formal peace negotiations in a foreign neutral venue in compliance with the pertinent provision in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
The NDFP team listened to the explanation of the GRP team on the reasons for postponing the resumption of the formal talks and agreed that the peace negotiations continue despite the cancellation of the scheduled formal talks in Oslo on June 28 to 30. The agreements reached in the four rounds of informal talks in March, April, May and June 2018, remain valid and have the effect of continuing the peace negotiations under the direction of the principals and reaffirmation of previous agreements. In this regard, the two sides must comply with JASIG and its provision for a foreign neutral venue, consistent with the general practice of warring parties to negotiate peace outside of their country or their respective territories.
In the meantime, both sides expressed their intention to conduct separate unilateral consultations and in due course bilateral consultations according to their respective needs on the premise that the GRP and NDFP Negotiating Panels are mandated by their respective principals in accordance with existing agreements and that the GRP and NDFP are mutually determined to overcome obstacles and impediments to the peace negotiations.
The NDFP side will conduct consultations on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) to review the remaining outstanding issues in the sections on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ARRD) and National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED), as well as to polish its draft on Environmental Rehabilitation and Compensation and Upholding People’s Rights in order to prepare for the continuation of negotiations on CASER. It will also hold unilateral consultations with its working group on Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR).
Finally, the two sides expressed their commitment to protect and preserve the gains that had been achieved in the four rounds of informal talks that produced documents containing important agreements to move the process forward.
The NDFP delegation expressed its gratitude to the Royal Norwegian Government for their invaluable and unwavering support to the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations in their role as Third Party Facilitator.