Article | Last updated: 02/12/2019 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The armed conflict between the Philippine authorities and the communist movement NDFP has lasted for 50 years. The parties have repeatedly tried to reach a peace agreement.
Norway has acted as facilitator of the talks since 2001. Since then, Norway has played an active part in the process, and several rounds of negotiations and confidential talks have been held in Oslo and other European cities.
However, negotiations have broken down several times. President Duterte, who was elected in May 2016, has put peace high on the agenda, and in August 2016 the peace talks were formally resumed in Oslo after a five-year impasse. Several rounds of negotiations, facilitated by Norway, were held in 2016 and 2017, before the peace process broke down again. Norway is continuing the dialogue with the parties, in the hope that they will return to the negotiating table.
More than 40.000 lives have been lost during the conflict, in which inequitable distribution of wealth and a lack of access to the political arena are core issues. The Communist Party of the Philippines was formed in 1968, and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), was established the following year. This movement spearheaded the fight against the Marcos dictatorship during the 1970s and 1980s. It claims to fight for genuine democracy and social justice, and for national liberation from foreign imperialists and from the country’s corrupt elite. The negotiations are focusing on social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, a ceasefire, and on bringing an end to the conflict.
The peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
Norway is also playing a leading role in the Independent Decommissioning Body in Mindanao, which was set up to oversee the decommissioning of the Muslim rebel group MILF, following the signing of a peace agreement between the Philippine Government and the MILF in spring 2014. A law implementing the peace agreement was passed in summer 2018, and after a confirmatory referendum in January–February 2019, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was established. The decommissioning process began on 7 September 2019. This will involve more than 40.000 rebels laying down their arms.