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Philippines peace talks must include green issues

Negotiations won’t be comprehensive without them, environmental group says

Communist rebels on parade in the southern Philippines Communist rebels on parade in the southern Philippines
  • Rick Flores and ucanews.com reporter, Davao City
  • Philippines
  • January 19, 2011
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Environmentalists are demanding ecological issues, such as mining, must be included in upcoming peace talks between the Philippines government and the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF).

“For peace talks to be considered comprehensive and sincere, issues related to the environment must be discussed,” the EcoWaste Coalition said in a statement.

“We hope that the talks will resolve and address the root causes of environmental destruction and ecological degradation in the country,” the group said.

The two sides are set to declare a cease-fire starting February 15 to mark the resumption of formal peace negotiations.

The government has said the issue regarding “revolutionary tax” collected by armed groups from mining firms will be brought up in the talks. Earlier reports said mining companies were threatening to leave the country if rebel groups continue to demand money.

The EcoWaste Coalition said Church and people’s organizations opposed to mining operations, would welcome their leaving the Philippines.

Meanwhile, chief government negotiator Alexander Padilla said the government will do its best in seeking the release of NDF “consultants” arrested by the military before talks resume.

He said the government hopes to complete formal negotiations with communist NDF rebels within 18 months.

Among the issues to be tackled during the talks are socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, an end to hostilities and the disposition of forces.

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