Article | Last updated: 06/07/2022 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The armed conflict between the Philippine authorities and the communist movement NDFP has lasted for over 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, the negotiations have broken down several times. The last round of formal talks was cancelled by President Duterte in November 2017. Informal talks have been held intermittently since then, with the aim of reviving the negotiating process. However, the parties’ positions have gradually become more entrenched. The conflict situation and the level of trust between the parties in the 53-year-long conflict are currently at an all-time low. The conflict situation has been further exacerbated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, which have been particularly severe. Norway is continuing its dialogue with the parties, in the hope that they will choose to return to the negotiating table.
More than 40 000 lives have been lost during the conflict, in which inequitable distribution of wealth, the unjust management of natural resources and a lack of access to the political arena are core issues. The negotiations have focused 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. As a result of the peace agreement that was signed by the Philippine Government and the MILF in spring 2014, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was established in 2019. Disarmament and the reintegration of former soldiers into civilian society are vital to ensure lasting peace. The decommissioning process began on 7 September 2019. This involves more than 40 000 rebels laying down their arms. The Norwegian authorities are supporting these efforts. Unfortunately, the decommissioning process came to a halt during the pandemic, but this work has now been resumed.