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Gov’t to raise landmine issue in peace talks with Reds

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The government will stick to its promise of not making any precondition for the resumption of the stalled peace talks with communist rebels scheduled in Norway next month but will raise the continued use of anti-personnel landmine by communist rebels despite a ban imposed by the United Nations (UN) prohibiting its use because of its indiscriminate dreadful effect to non-combatants.

Prior to the reopening of formal negotiations, Health Undersecretary Alex Padilla, chairman of the government peace panel, and Luis Jalandoni, chair of the communist National Democratic Front (NDF), will meet for their second-round of informal talks in Oslo, Norway on Jan. 15-17.

Their initial meeting was held in Hong Kong last month. Both agreed to hold a second round of informal talks before formal negotiations take place.

The Royal Norwegian government has remained as the third party facilitator of the talks.

As third party facilitator, Norway has been urging both the Philippine government and the NDF to resume the peace talks which bogged down in August 2005 after the United States tagged the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), as a terrorist organization.

The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said the issue on the use of anti-personnel landmine will be raised in the forthcoming talks because of the NPA’s continued use of the prohibited weapon in combat, the latest of which was the killing of 10 army soldiers and a nine-year-old boy when the NPA detonated a landmine in an ambush in Las Navas, Samar on Dec. 16, 2010.

The UN has banned the use of antipersonnel landmines because of their horrendous and indiscriminate destruction to lives, including civilians who may happen to pass an area where anti-personnel landmines are planted.

The Human Rights Watch says “The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty comprehensively bans the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of antipersonnel mines, and requires states to destroy their stockpiles within four years and to clear all mined areas within 10 years. The treaty also contains provisions to assist landmine survivors and to support mine risk education programs.”

Since assuming as chair of the government peace panel, Padilla expressed the hope that “now is the best time to find a peaceful solution” to write finis to Asia’s longest running insurgency.

Negotiations between the government and the NDF have been off-and-on the past 24 years. (Ben Cal-PNA)




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