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Philippine president appoints chief peace negotiator with leftist rebels

10-21-2010 13:46 BJT

MANILA, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has appointed human rights lawyer Alexander Padilla as the government's chief peace negotiator with the left-wing Communist Party of the Philippines- New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said in Thursday's briefing that Padilla, who also serves as Health Undersecretarry, will head the reconstituted negotiating panel.

The Norwegian government also agreed to be the third party facilitator, Deles added.

She described Padilla as a renowned advocate of peace, justice and human rights alongside his 10 years of service in the field of public health.

Deles said Padilla's appointment will advance the stalled peace negotiations and "move the process to a discussion of the remaining substantive agenda on socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces; and forge a final political settlement of the conflict that will lead to key societal reform."

Other members of the panel include Ednar Gempasaw Dayanghirang, former executive director of the Mindanao Business Council and a strong advocate for the welfare and rights of indigenous peoples; Pablito Sanidad, seasoned human rights lawyer and founder of the Free Legal Assistance Group; Jurgette Honculada, a leading gender and labor rights advocate; and Maria Lourdes Tison, staunch peace and environmental advocate.

"With the formal reconstitution of the peace panel, we hope that the CPP-NPA-NDF will respond positively to government's peace efforts by returning to the negotiating table with commitment towards a peaceful conclusion of the armed conflict," Deles said.

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