by Joyce Pangco Pañares
Excerpt from Manila Standard
19 October 2010)
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has appointed human rights lawyer Alexander Padilla as the government’s chief negotiator for the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front, a Malacañang source said Monday.
Padilla, a graduate of the University of the Philippines, has previously served as senior state prosecutor of the Justice Department and health undersecretary.
In an on-line interview with the Manila Standard, CPP founder and NDF political consultant Jose Maria Sison described Padilla as a “good choice” for government chief negotiator amid efforts to revive the stalled peace talks.
“Alex is known to understand the root causes of the armed conflict and the need for reasonable negotiations to arrive at mutually satisfactory agreements,” Sison said.
“He is known as a fair and reasonable person to talk to.”
Padilla has also served as counsel for several people who faced trial during the Martial Law years for allegedly being involved in the communist movement.
Sison said the CPP-NDF “makes no preconditions for the resumption of formal talks,” which bogged down in 2004 after the rebel group was included in the list of terrorist organizations of the United States and the European Union.
“Both the government and the NDF are equally obliged to comply with the previous agreements,” Sison said.
Earlier, NDF officials told House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III that the government’s sincerity in pursuing peace negotiations would be determined by its choice of chief negotiator.
Tañada met with the NDF officials in Utrecht during an official visit for a human rights meeting two weeks ago.