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Jamby, NDF call for resumption of peace talks

ABS-CBN, (2nd UPDATE) 14 October 2007 (as of 3:58 AM)

Sen. Maria Consuelo "Jamby" Madrigal on Saturday said that after meeting with representatives of the National Democratic Front in the Netherlands they have agreed to call for the resumption of formal peace talks between the Philippine government and NDF.

Madrigal, in a statement, said: "The NDFP has agreed with me in a Joint Statement executed in the Netherlands that, people should unite to encourage the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and NDFP to resume formal talks in their peace negotiations, address the roots of the armed conflict, accelerate the forging of agreements and bring about a just and lasting peace."

Furthermore, Madrigal said the NDF negotiating panel "agreed to exhaust all efforts to reach a resolution to Asia's longest running insurgency problem until peace is achieved."

ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau learned that Madrigal met with Luis T. Jalandoni, chief of the NDF negotiating panel; Fidel V. Agcaoili, member and spokesperson of the NDF panel and Ruth de Leon, executive director of NDF International Information Office. Jose Ma. Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and chief political consultant of the NDF panel was also present at the meeting.

Formal talks between the government and representatives of the armed communist movement in the Philippines bogged down in 2004. NDF officials accused the Arroyo administration of refusing to work for the removal of the CPP and its armed wing New People's Army from the terror listing made by United States and other countries.

The government of Norway assisted the government-NDF peace talks by acting as a third-party facilitator.

Madrigal said that as chairman of the Senate Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation she will work for resumption of the formal talks.

"I shall form a Technical Working Group to assist in hastening the resolution of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations for the purpose of enacting remedial legislation and to demonstrate that it is possible to produce agreements and actually use these to accelerate the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations," said the senator.

Madrigal also did not fail to recognize the difficulties that she may face in trying to jump start the talks that have been suspended for more than three years.

"I hope that the Arroyo administration and the hawks in the political and military establishment will not condemn me for engaging in treacherous talks with fellow Filipinos for the purpose of achieving peace," said Madrigal.

Madrigal had previously met with NDF officials in 2006 when she also inked a joint communiqué that had also called for the resumption of the suspended peace talks. She reportedly earned the ire of government security officials for "sleeping with the enemy.

The neophyte senator however maintained her position.

"My intentions are clear - prevent further bloodshed and violence between Filipinos," said Madrigal. "There is no substitute for peace. The time to talk is now."

For its part, the NDF in a separate statement on the meeting with Madrigal said accused the government of "refusing to continue peace negotiations with the NDFP, ignoring demands from opposition political parties and the powerful Christian Churches in the Philippines. It has instead stepped up armed attacks against the territories of the New People's Army and the Communist Party of the Philippines, and unleashed paramilitary death squads against legal opposition parties and organizations."

The NDF also lauded Madrigal as "one of the leaders of the crusade against government corruption and a staunch promoter of social reforms in the Philippines."

With photos and a report from Loui Galicia, ABS-CBNEurope

News Bureau

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