Duterte to meet with NDF leaders on possible resumption of peace talks

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 November) – President Rodrigo Duterte will meet with leaders of the National Democratic Front (NDF) after his Singapore and Papua New Guinea trips this week to discuss the possible resumption of the peace negotiations.

‘’Agcaoili and Jalandoni. I will not keep it a secret. I do not want yang confidential-confidential. Pupunta dito sabi nila gusto nila akong kausapin’’ (they will come over to talk to me),’’ Duterte said at the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival in Puerto Princesa City last Saturday.

Duterte was referring to NDF peace panel chair Fidel Agcaoili and senior adviser Luis Jalandoni, who earlier chaired the panel. Early in his administration, he had met with these officials in Malacanang and in Davao.

He said Agcaoili expressed apprehension they might be arrested if they come over. On November 9, police arrested NDF consultant Vic Ladlad and two others were arrested in Novaliches, Quezon City allegedly due to illegal possession of firearms and explosives, an allegation they denied.

‘’So sabi ko talagang huhulihin kayo. Sabi niya, gusto daw nila ako makipag — makipag-ano sa kanila so nagtawag ako ng cluster meeting kasali na mga military (So I told them they will definitely arrest you. They said they want a dialogue with me so I called for a cluster meeting including the military) and asked them ‘’So what do you think?’’

‘’Sabi nila, baka. Baka pala. (They said maybe. Just maybe. So what do you think?) ’’It’s not a very big margin there. Pero baka pala. (But maybe) So, when I (come) back after Papua New Guinea and Singapore, I will make the announcement. Kaya usap tayo ulit kasi baka, baka pala’’ (So let’s talk again because we might just….)

The President is set to leave for the 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Singapore from November 12 to 15 and the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in Papue New Guinea from November 16 to 18.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza told MindaNews, ‘’kung unsa iyang ginasulti, mao na na’’ whatever he said, that’s it

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, chair of the government peace panel told MindaNews that arrangements are being made for Duterte’s meeting with the NDF peace panel leaders.

Before revealing the proposed meeting with the NDF, Duterte lashed out at them for allegedly taking advantage of the Lumads or Indigenous Peoples who, he said, comprised 75 per cent of the New People’s Army (NPA), and reiterated earlier statements that the NPA should surrender.

‘’Kawawa, naawa ako. Mga NPA… (Pitiful. I pity them),’’ he said, and called on the NPA to surrender.

‘’It’s time for you to surrender actually. Sinabi ko nga, hindi ako magsiguro lahat. By the grace of God, maawa si Allah, in two years baka magkaroon tayo ng kapayapaan

(I said, I cannot be certain for all. By the grace of God and the mercy of Allah, in two years we might have peace),’’ he said.

In a statement on November 11, Agcaoili said he and NDF panel member Coni Ledesma are set to return to the Philippines this month “in connection with our work as members of the NDFP component in the Joint Monitoring Committee under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).”

Agcaoili said they will be accompanied by Jalandoni. He added they were invited to meet with Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Bjørn Jahnsen.

“In this regard, we welcome the opportunity to meet with the President unless he does not want to or his military is against it,” he said.\

On June 14, Presidential Adviser on Peace Process secretary Dureza said Duterte told his government panel to postpone the scheduled resumption of the 5th round of peace talks with NDFP on June 28 in Oslo, Norway to consult the public first before they would work out agreements with the communists.

That was the third time the 5th round was cancelled.

The GRP cancelled the November 25 to 27, 2017 peace talks, with Proclamation 360 of President Rodrigo R. Duterte “for lack of sincerity,” following an NPA ambush on November 9, 2017 that killed a four-month old Walysha Manchorao, and similar incidents.

The President subsequently signed Proclamation 374, designating the Communist Party of the Philippines and NPA as terrorist organizations. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)