Civil society important to peace talks

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY-Stressing the importance of the role of civil society organizations (CSOs) in  the peace negotiations, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles said that CSOs can provide the mechanisms to sustain the peace process when it collapses.

Deles said that CSOs can be instrumental in “bringing and making all parties stay committed to dialogue on the negotiating table.”

“When mechanisms of the peace process collapse, civil society groups provide the alternative to sustain the peace process, especially in holding negotiating parties accountable for their actions,” she said in a statement.

Deles said that civil society groups have actively brought stakeholders to see the impact of these actions on the lives of the people on the ground, “who bear the brunt of violence and have the most stakes in preserving peace.”

She also said that keeping all parties committed to the peace talks is an “opportune space” for collective action between civil society and the government.

The peace adviser reiterated the positive developments in the peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“In an informal chair-to-chair meeting which surprised the public last week, the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF have agreed to resume formal talks in February and to mutually observe the suspension of military offensives during the Christmas season,” she said.

The upcoming GRP-CPP-NPA-NDF peace negotiations will be the first of such talks after negotiations were suspended in August 2005.

Both groups have earlier agreed to observe a “Christmas ceasefire” from December 16 up to the end of January 3, 2011.

On the peace talks with the MILF, Deles stated that the government is grateful that, through unilateral actions taken by both parties, the concerned countries have agreed to extend the tours of duty on their respective contingents in the International Monitoring Team (IMT) for another three months until late February or March next year.

Regarding issues on facilitation, she said that the government has directed all concerns to the Malaysian government “as is only proper.”

“We remain hopeful that these will be resolved soon to allow the talks to immediately resume – and, while I cannot go into details, I can confirm that the basis for my optimism gained ground over the last couple of days,” Deles stated.

“I choose to nurture hope and confidence that decisive steps from all sides will move the process forward to arrive at mutually agreed upon modalities and agreements,” she added. Albus D. Estabas

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