DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 20 Feb) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte told the military and the police to allow National Democratic Front (NDF) peace panel chair Fidel Agcaoili if he wants to return to the country to talk peace with his government (GRP) panel despite the President’s previous threats to arrest and detain communist consultants.
Speaking during the 9th Anniversary of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) and 25th Anniversary of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area at the SMX Convention Center here, Duterte expressed interest to re-open the GRP-NDF peace talks.
“I think Atty. Agcaoili has sounded off. He was coming again to talk,” he said.
He said he told the military and the police to just allow Agcaoili to come home. “We are on a waiting period about the appropriate time to talk about peace,” the President noted.
On the possible resumption of the GRP-NDF peace negotiation, Duterte said: “I am not that cruel.” But he told Communist Party of Philippines (CPP) chairman Jose Maria Sison not to make demands.
In a statement on Wednesday, Sison said he welcomes the positive remarks of the President about being open to peace negotiations and allow Agcaoili “sort out Duterte’s statements with GRP chief peace negotiator Silvestre Bello III.”
Sison said it is best to let the negotiators meet and do their job as he cannot “answer the mixed statements of Duterte publicly because to do so can make me appear as the one mixed up.”
The peace negotiation with the communists rebels was aborted with Presidential Proclamation 360 on November 23, 2017 allegedly “for lack of sincerity” on the part of the communists.
Duterte recognized the need to address their sentiments, including social justice, to attain peace.
“I am not saying that I am now in agreement with Sison. I don’t like his style but I do not hate him. We are friends and we can be friends. Some other time they say I would kill for money. But since Sison is my professor, I will kill him for nothing. Except that before he goes to the blue yonder, kindly find time to talk sensible peace,” the President said.
Without peace, Duterte said there is no way for Sison, his former professor in political thought, to return to the country.
Duterte told Sison to refrain from making any demands.
“We go to the table and to talk about it. And if he proposes something which is not acceptable and I would say, ‘No, I cannot accept that.’ And if I propose something and he does not relish it, then maybe he can go back to Netherlands,” he said, asking Sison to stay there permanently and get “two wives and start breeding a new family there.”
In a follow-up interview, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the communists should grab the offer of the President to talk and realize “that their 52 years of struggle is just a fantasy now.”
Panelo said Agcaoili said he can return to the country but maintained they should not set any conditions.
“The President wants them to stop the extortion and the killings. Ever since that’s his condition,” he said, referring to the New People’s Army, the communists’ armed wing. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)