Jun 252013

The government’s chief negotiator with the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF) is set to leave his post after he was nominated as head of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

Alexander Padilla, who chairs the government peace panel with the NDF, said Tuesday that while he has not formally resigned from his post, he will only stay with the panel until the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) finds his replacement.

“I’m in transition. That’s based on the premise that there’s an impasse. Meron pa akong reports na kailangang isubmit,” Padilla said in a phone interview.

He added that he wanted to focus more on his new job as PhilHealth president and chief executive officer.

In a separate text message, presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles said Padilla’s decision did “not come as a surprise,” since the peace panel chair has long notified her about his plans to leave the panel.

“We have agreed that he [Padilla] will stay on to ensure a smooth transition. The rest of the panel remains in place and the work continues to proceed,” Deles said.

Last April, Padilla announced that the Philippine government will no longer return to the negotiating table with the NDF, saying that the talks were “going nowhere” after a 22-month impasse.

NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni, for his part, said that it was the Aquino administration, not the communist-led group, which “dimmed” the prospects of peace due to the government’s supposed refusal to hold its end up on agreements signed by both parties decades ago.

The armed struggle being pursued by the NDF in the Philippines, through its armed wing, the New People’s Army, is one of Asia’s longest running insurgencies, spanning more than four decades.

The OPAPP is currently studying a “new approach” to the peace process with communist insurgents, but details on this approach has yet to be finalized. Andreo Calonzo/RSJ, GMA News

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