Philippine government, rebels agree to peace negotiations

November 28, 2023 - 5:26 PM
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Ferdinand Marcos Jr
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivers his speech during a joint press statement with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines, July 31, 2023. (Aaron Favila/Pool via Reuters/File Photo)

 The Philippine government and the country’s communist rebels have agreed to restart peace negotiations after a six-year hiatus, with the aim of ending decades of armed strife, the two sides and facilitator Norway said on Tuesday.

The bloody conflict between authorities and the New People’s Army (NPA), the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has raged for over 50 years and killed more than 40,000 people.

High-ranking delegations from both sides last week agreed to a “common vision for peace” that sought to address key obstacles, which was revealed by Norway’s foreign ministry on Tuesday.

If negotiations succeed, the rebels will end their armed struggle and transform into a political movement, according to Norway, which has engaged the South-East Asian island nation’s peace process for around 20 years.

Formal talks were last conducted in 2017 but were acrimoniously terminated by then-President Rodrigo Duterte, whose bid to revive negotiations also failed.

He left office in mid-2022 and was replaced by Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The announcement comes less than a week after Marcos Jr. issued an order granting amnesty to several rebel groups, including former members of the communist movement.

Under the amnesty order, former CPP, NPA and NDFP members would be absolved of crimes they committed “in pursuit of political beliefs”.

– Reporting by Mikhail Flores; Editing by Martin Petty and Terje Solsvik