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Gov't drafts new framework to guide peace talks with leftist rebels

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The government is drafting a new framework that will guide peace talks with the leftist Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles said today the new framework is a "work in progress" and that consultations with civil society groups and other sectors are ongoing.

"We want an approach that will not be hampered by procedural issues. Also, it is important that there is ceasefire while negotiations are ongoing. It is important for people on the ground to feel that the peace process with the CPP-NPA-NDF is improving their lives," Deles said in a forum organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.

Cessation of hostilities, government officials noted, will build confidence and trust, lessen incidents of human rights and humanitarian law violations, and allow a good measure of normalcy in the lives of the people in the affected communities.

Deles said the peace process should yield results in the " foreseeable future."

According to Alexander Padilla, chairman of the government's negotiating panel for the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF, in the 27 years of negotiations under the so-called regular track, the two panels agreed only on one issue.

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"In those 27 years, we have agreed on exactly one issue, human rights, with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law," he said.

The Philippine government also reiterated that it is willing to go back to the negotiating table but under a new framework it is proposing.

Padilla said both panels can no longer return to the regular track of negotiations which, after 27 years, brought them nowhere near a political settlement of the armed conflict.

Also, the special track for peace negotiations can no longer be pursued after the Philippine government and third-party facilitator Norway have "mutually established that it is closed."

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