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Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, concurrent government chief negotiator on the talks with communist rebels, stressed on addressing the root causes of armed conflicts through socio-economic reforms in order to achieve permanent peace in the country.

In a forum on the peace talks between the Philippine Government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) organized by the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) on Monday, September 26, Bello identified extreme poverty, injustices, and corruption in government as underlying factors that bred insurgency and that these concerns must be immediately resolved.

“The signing of the agreements is not the peace itself nor the assurance of lasting peace. In order to achieve peace in our country, we should not be signing peace agreements alone but, we should be addressing the root causes of conflict,” Bello said.

Bello explained that the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER) with the NDF seeks to address these concerns.

CASER—which according to Bello is the “heart and soul of the GRP-NDF peace process”—is one of the remaining substantive agenda on the talks, aside from the political and constitutional reforms and the end of hostilities and disposition of forces.

As embodied in the Joint Statement signed last August 26, both panels agreed to finish the CASER within a period of six months.

CASER and the two remaining substantive agenda are set to be tackled during the next round of peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway on October 6 to 10.

Aside from resolving the root causes of conflicts, Bello also shared the current initiatives of both panels to come up with a joint, bilateral ceasefire leading to permanently ending the hostilities on the ground.

In the said Joint Statement, the GRP and NDF panels decided to reconcile their respective unilateral ceasefire declarations into a single, unified, and bilateral document within 60 days.

Prior to the first round of talks last August, President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued an indefinite ceasefire declaration with the communist rebels.

The NDF reciprocated the President’s pronouncement by also extending indefinitely their week-long unilateral ceasefire declaration that only covered the duration of the talks.

“In 60 days, the respective unilateral indefinite ceasefire will become a joint, bilateral, and permanent ceasefire that will eventually lead to the end of hostilities and disposition of forces,” Bello explained.

With these developments, Bello said that he is optimistic that negotiations with the NDF will be concluded within a nine to 12-month time frame.

Bello’s counterpart, NDF peace panel chair Luis Jalandoni, also attended the event—which is the first time that both the GRP and NDF peace panel chairs participated in a same public forum. AJRSP with PR

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Bello pushes for socio-economic reforms in addressing root causes of conflict Bello pushes for socio-economic reforms in addressing root causes of conflict Reviewed by Unknown on 30 September Rating: 5

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