OSLO, Norway. The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) announced Fidel Agcaoili’s assumption as its new negotiating panel chairperson as long-time chief Luis Jalandoni assumes his new role as senior adviser.
Agcaoili, erstwhile panel vice chairperson, is expected to deliver NDFP’s opening statement at the start of their second round of formal peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines today. He is also the chairperson of the NDFP’s Human Rights Committee.
“The national leadership of the NDFP has granted the long-standing request of Comrade Luis G. Jalandoni to resign as the Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel,” NDFP in a statement said.
“I have been wanting to resign as NDFP panel chairperson since I turned 70 years old. Now that I am 81, I think it is time for the younger ones to take over,” Jalandoni told reporters in a late night press conference here.
“He (Jalandoni) will assume the very important role previously occupied by the late NDFP chairperson Antonio Zumel,” Agcaoili told Kodao.
Principled peace negotiator
Jalandoni became chairperson of the NDFP panel when it negotiated the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees with the GRP on February 24, 1995. He was previously identified as NDFP vice chairperson for international affairs and head of its delegations in earlier agreements such as The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 and The Breukelen Statement of 1994.
Born to a landed family in Negros Occidental, Jalandoni was class valedictorian of his De La Salle University High School class. He studied for the priesthood and again graduated at the top of his class.
As a priest of the Diocese of Bacolod, he was appointed to its Social Action Center by the late Bacolod Bishop Antonio Fortich. Jalandoni left the priesthood in the 1970s and joined the NDFP, later becoming its chief international representative in the early 1980s.
“We credit Comrade Jalandoni for leading the NDFP peace panel in forging many important agreements with the GRP including The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” NDFP peace consultant Felix Randy Malayao said.
“His firm and principled stand always put the Filipino people’s interests first and that is why he is a very successful negotiator,” Malayao said.
The NDFP also announced the appointment of consultant Benito Tiamzon as its new negotiating panel member.
News of the announcement came as soon as the NDFP arrived in this capital city yesterday. Sources said the GRP immediately knew of the changes in the NDFP panel.