If negotiations succeed, the rebels will end their 50-year armed struggle and transform into a political movement.
The Philippine government will resume peace talks with the country’s communist rebels, in a bid to end decades of civil strife.
Authorities will re-engage with the New People’s Army (NPA), the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), for the first time in six years, both parties and facilitator Norway announced on Tuesday.
“The parties agree to a principled and peaceful resolution of the armed conflict,” the two sides said in a joint statement, adding that the peace talks will address “deep-rooted socioeconomic and political grievances”.
If negotiations succeed, the rebels will end their armed struggle and transform into a political movement, according to Norway, which has mediated the island nation’s peace process for around 20 years.
Despite the progress, the government announced no immediate ceasefire and said operations against the armed group would continue.
However, military chief Romeo Brawner was hopeful an eventual peace deal would enable the armed forces to fully focus on “external or territorial defence”, rather than domestic conflict.
Fifty years of conflict
The Philippine government’s conflict with the NPA has raged for over 50 years, peaking in the 1980s, and killed more than 40,000 people.
Today, the NPA has only a few thousand fighters, compared to some 26,000 at its height, with many rebels surrendering in exchange for financial assistance and livelihood opportunities, according to the government.
However, NPA rebels continue to engage in deadly clashes in some parts of the Philippines, staging ambushes against those perceived as state collaborators.
Successive Philippine administrations have held talks with the communists aimed at ending the violence since 1986, negotiating with their Netherlands-based political arm, the NDF.
Formal talks were last held in 2017 when they were acrimoniously terminated by then-President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte left office in mid-2022 and was replaced by Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The announcement of renewed peace talks comes less than a week after Marcos Jr issued an order granting amnesty to several rebel groups, including former members of the communist movement.
Under the amnesty order, former CPP, NPA and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) members would be absolved of crimes they committed “in pursuit of political beliefs”.