Maoists next in Aquino peace agenda, says aide

MANILA: After the landmark interim agreement with Moro insurgents in restive Mindanao, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino is now turning his sight on resuming the stalled peace talks with Maoists rebels, according to a top Malacanang Palace official. “We would like to believe that it will inspire the CPP-NPA of the sincerity of the government in working toward a peaceful settlement with the rebel groups and we seen this with the MILF,” Secretary Edwin Lacierda, the presidential spokesman, told a Palace press briefing. The CPP-NPA stands for the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed component the New People’s Army which have been waging a Maoist-style insurgency against the government for more than 40 years, considered the longest in Asia and the Pacific.

Lacierda expressed optimism that talks with the Maoist rebels would also succeed similar to the landmark framework agreement forged by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in volatile Mindanao. Officials described the agreement as a roadmap that could eventually lead to the signing of a treaty to bring peace and end decades-long war and violence in resource-rich Mindanao. Lawyer Alexander Padilla, the chief government negotiator with the Maoists, confirmed the two panels initially agreed to resume peace talks October in Oslo, Norway, which has been retained as the third party facilitator.

The rebels are represented in the negotiations by their political arm the National Democratic Front, which resumed in February 2011, or eight months after Aquino took over Malacanang Palace in June 2010. Aside from implementing major reforms including the elimination of pervasive corruption in the bureaucracy, Aquino said a vital part of his commitment is to sign peace agreements with the rebels groups before his term is to expire in 2016.

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