NDF consultant admits no deal yet on socio-economic reforms in coming talks
Satur Ocampo, consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF), acknowledged on Monday discussions on the comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms (CASER) in the next round of talks later this month could not be sufficient to reach a deal.
Ocampo, former Bayan Muna party-list representative, said in a forum in Manila that CASER is the "most crucial" part of the peace process.
Asked if the third round of talks slated on January 19 to 25 will be a make or break situation, he said, "not at this point."
He said both sides could focus first on things that can be easy to resolve and "to set aside in the meantime the points of differences."
Ocampo said in the event of deadlock or there is any obstacle in the discussion, both sides have mechanisms to address the matter.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said all agenda in the peace process with the NDF are important, except CASER is "the most important" because "this strikes hard into the heart of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines."
He noted that CASER is about land reform, rural development and industrialization. "That's why this is the most contentious," he said.
Asked if the initial target of one year to reach a peace agreement with the leftist rebels still holds, Dureza said, "don't measure it on what we had discussed on timelines before. It's an evolving effort."
During the first round of talks under the Duterte administration in August last year, both sides agreed to work hard to reach a peace settlement after a year.
Norway has been facilitating the peace talks between the government and the NDF, the political wing of the CPP-New People's Army. Celerina Monte/DMS