Government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III and NDFP peace panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili explain to the Filipino migrant workers why there was a delay on the opening ceremony of the fourth round of the peace talks on Sunday, Apr. 2 at the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. The negotiators said they still have to discuss the directives sent by President Rodrigo Duterte to the government negotiating panel. (Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands — Filipino migrant workers trooped to Radisson Blu Palace Hotel here to witness the opening of the new round of talks between the government and the communists on Sunday morning.

Jay Marquez, 30, a part-time housekeeper from Batangas, Philippines and now based in Amsterdam since three years ago, said he wanted the peace panels to continue talking for the benefit of the country.

This round of talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines is set to tackle the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms.

Like millions of Filipino migrant workers who sacrificed by leaving their families home to work abroad, Marquez said he wanted to be assured that Filipinos in the country will have a better economic situation in the future.

“Mahirap kasi na malayo ka sa pamilya, tapos nagkakasakit, di ka makauwi. Kung nasa ibang bayan ka, sana maganda ang nangyayari sa Pilipinas (Life’s hard here where you don’t have your family to take care of you when you get sick, and you can’t go home. It would be good that when you’re away from home, better things are happening in the Philippines),” he told Davao Today.

Jay’s elder sister, Marge, had been working longer in Amsterdam for the last seven years.

“Mahirap kasi minsan gusto mo nang umuwi pero pag naiisip mo na mahirap ang buhay sa atin, magtiis-tiis muna dito para mabigyan ng magandang future yung mga anak ko (Sometimes you wish to come home, but when you think about the hard life back in the Philippines, you have no choice but to bear the situation so that you can give your children a better future),” she said in an interview.

So many times, she decided to go back to the Philippines. But often, she would be stopped by thinking, “kelan ka pa makakauwi? Kelan pa gaganda ang ekonomiya ng Pilipinas (When will you be able to return to your family? When will the economy of our country improve?),” she asked.

She said when President Rodrigo Duterte won in the elections, she hoped that he would be able to push for peace in the country and to bring about economic development.

“Sabi ko nga nung manalo si Duterte, ‘sana siya na yung maging susi para gumanda na yung ekonomiya natin, para wala nang mangingibang bansang mga Pilipino’ (When Duterte won, I thought he would bring about a better economy for us, where no more Filipinos would be forced to go abroad),” she said.

After a marathon of informal talks held between Philippine government peace panel and their counterparts from the NDFP, the fourth round of talks will opened today at 10 am Netherlands time (4 pm Philippine time).

The fourth round of the peace talks was supposed to open on Sunday, Apr. 2. However, panel to panel meetings on the agenda setting took several more hours following the announcement of President Duterte of the conditions set before the formal talks pushes through.

Government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III and NDFP peace panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili met with the Filipino community waiting in a hall to apologize for the delay of the opening of the talks.

Bello said the government panel needed to discuss the instructions from President Duterte with their counterparts from the NDFP.

“Konting tiis lang ha, nadelay lang tayo ng konti,” Bello told the crowd who are mostly members of militant migrant’s group, Migrante in Netherlands.(

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