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Philippine Army holding Frank Fernandez incommunicado

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) strongly condemned what it calls the unjust arrest of another of its peace consultants and his companions last Sunday in Laguna Province.

In a statement, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili demanded that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) immediately release Francisco “Ka Frank” Fernandez and his companions “as a matter of principle, justice and humanity.”

“Frank Fernandez is a publicly known consultant of the NDFP in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations as NDFP spokesperson in Negros,” Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili said 71-year old Fernandez has been ill for some time had to come down from Negros for medical treatment, accompanied by his wife Cleofe Lagtapon and Gee-Ann Perez.

Where are they?

The NDFP said details of where Fernandez and companions are incarcerated are still unclear.

“This poses grave danger to their health and lives. It is incumbent upon their custodial units to forthwith present Frank Fernandez and his companions to their relatives and lawyers in order for him to receive his medicines and assure that their rights and well-being are respected,” Agcaoili said.

Philippine National Police Region IV-A director Chief Superintendent Ted Carranza told reporters Monday that Fernandez was taken to the Philippine Army Hospital in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City after the arrest.

“Well, alam niyo kasi itong si Fr. Frank Fernandez ay matanda na. I just talked with an officer from the Philippine Army, nag-complain siya (Fernandez) ng chest pain after his arrest. So he was sent to the army hospital for treatment,” Carranza said.

It was not known whether Fernandez is still confined at the said hospital as human rights defenders and public interest lawyers are still being prevented from seeing the detainees.

In his press conference at Camp Crame yesterday, PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said Fernandez and his companions are under the custody of the Philippine Army’s Military Intelligence Group of Calabarzon reportedly based in Camp Eldridge in Los Baños, Laguna.

“With his unjust arrest, the Duterte regime runs the risk of adding another detainee to the list of three political prisoners who died in prison from June 2016, in violation of international humanitarian law and the minimum prison standards recognized by civilized nations,” Agcaoili said.

JASIG-protected

Agcaoili said Fernandez, a former Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Bacolod before becoming a rebel leader in Negros, holds Document of Identification Number PP 978544 as provided for in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) between the GRP and the NDFP.

Agcaoili also dismissed Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Junior’s claim that the JASIG is already inoperable in accordance with GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s termination of the peace talks in November 2017.

Agcaoili said JASIG’s termination requires a protocol, a move the NDFP said Duterte failed to follow with his unilateral termination of the peace talks through Proclamation No. 360.

The NDFP Negotiating Panel earlier said the GRP has not formally given them a letter of termination through the Third Party Facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government, rendering Duterte’s Proclamation No. 360 moot and the JASIG still operable.

“So, no matter how many times President Rodrigo Duterte unilaterally flip-flops from resuming and then terminating the peace talks, the JASIG remains in full force and effect unless otherwise terminated according to the terms of the agreement,” Agcaoili said.

“In fact the immunity guarantees of Frank Fernandez extend even after the actual termination of the peace talks,” he explained. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte: Military, police has final word on peace agreement with NDFP

President Rodrigo Duterte revealed his will not be the last word on whatever peace agreement the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) enters into with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

In a speech in Tanza, Cavite Thursday (November 22) to inaugurate a new barge port, Duterte said he will seek approval from the military and the police before signing a final agreement with the NDFP even if he already approves of it.

“Give me the final draft [of a peace agreement]. If I like it, I will pass it on to the military and the police. I will ask [them], ‘Is this alright with you?’” Duterte said.

Kasi, kung ‘di naman tanggap ng militar at pulis, I coup d’etat ka naman. Anak ng jueteng!” he explained. (Because, the military and the police will only launch a coup d’etat against me if they are against it. Son of a b****!)

Duterte also revealed he decided not to meet NDFP chief peace negotiator Fidel Agcaoili and senior peace adviser Luis Jalandoni.

“And this Agcaoili and Jalandoni would come here and talk to me. I said, ‘Why should I talk to you? You talk to [Presidential peace adviser Jesus] Dureza and [GRP chief negotiator Silvestre] Bello,’” Duterte said.

Duterte, however, has previously met with Agcaoili and Jalandoni after his election and assumption of the presidency, even promising to issue a general amnesty for more than 500 political prisoners.

Agcaoili, Jalandoni and NDFP Negotiating Panel member Coni Ledesma was set to arrive in the Philippines this week to meet with the new Norwegian Ambassador the Philippines and attend meetings as members of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The three negotiators did not push through with their homecoming after being threatened with arrest by interior and local government secretary Eduardo Año. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP blames Año’s arrest threat for cancelled trip

YOGJAKARTA, Indonesia—Europe-based National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace negotiators announced they cancelled their planned trip to the Philippines and possible meeting with Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) President Rodrigo Duterte, blaming interior and local government secretary Eduardo Año’s threat to have them arrested.

In a statement today, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said  he and fellow peace negotiator Coni Ledesma and senior adviser Luis Jalandoni have decided to forego their trip to the Philippines after Año said last November 16 that they will be arrested upon arrival.

“On November 16, DILG Sec. Eduardo Año issued a statement that we would be arrested upon our arrival unless the President says otherwise,” Agcaoili said.

“As a consequence, we decided in the following day to forego with the trip of Mr. Jalandoni and Ms. Ledesma whose names are in the so-called proscription case against the CPP and NPA,” he explained.

Agcaoili also clarified that his name was not included in the 600 persons listed by the Department of Justice in its terrorist proscription case against the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army last January.

He added that as far as he knows, there are no outstanding cases against him in any GRP court that could be a basis for his arrest.

Not ready

Agcaoili said that Duterte announced in Papua New Guinea last Friday while attending a summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations that he is not yet prepared to resume talks with the revolutionary movement.

He also revealed that they have been informed by the GRP last Sunday, November 18, that the appointment with the President had been cancelled and that he would only be meeting with presidential spokesperson Salvador  Panelo and presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza.

“[S]uch a meeting might not prove useful without a new perspective. As a consequence, we decided that I also forego with my trip scheduled for that evening for security consideration,” Agcaoili said.

He said that a meeting with Duterte had been scheduled on November 23 while they are in Manila, “considering that more than three months have passed since the GRP postponed the scheduled resumption of formal talks in Oslo, Norway, on June 28, 2018.”

Earlier, Duterte disclosed he is thinking about resuming the peace talks and has consulted the military about the matter.

“I will not keep it a secret. I do not want (it to be) confidential. They will come here. They want to talk to me. Their problem is they might be arrested,” Duterte said.

Other cancelled meetings

Because of the cancellation, Agcaoili said they failed to attend a meeting with the new Royal Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines scheduled yesterday.

The Royal Norwegian Government is the Third Party Facilitator to the NDFP-GRP peace process.

Agcaoili earlier said their trip was primarily in connection with his and Ledesma’s work as members of the NDFP section in the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The JMS’ office is in Cubao, Quezon City. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP-Duterte meeting up to the President–Agcaoili

The possible meeting between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) the Government of the Republic of the Philippines is up to President Rodrigo Duterte, the Left’s chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili said they welcome the opportunity to meet with Duterte “unless he does not want to or his military is against it.”

In a speech in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan Saturday, Duterte said he is thinking of meeting with the NDFP negotiators.

“I called for a cluster meeting including the military. ‘So what do you think?’ They said, ‘Maybe. Perhaps maybe.’ It’s not a very big margin there, but ‘maybe,’” Duterte said.

Agcaoli said in a statement that he and fellow NDFP Negotiating Panel member Coni Ledesma have a scheduled trip to the Philippines in connection with their work as members of the NDFP component in the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The NDFP and the GRP has a joint secretariat office in Quezon City where a total of 6,898 human rights violations complaints have been filed since June 2004 to March 2018.

The NDFP said 4,886 complaints have been received against GRP forces while 2,012 have been filed against the NDFP.

Agcaoili however earlier said majority of their complaints against their forces were nuisance complaints manufactured and filed by GRP agencies.

Agcaoili said they would be accompanied by NDFP Negotiating Panel senior adviser Luis Jalandoni.

Their trip would also include a meeting with the new Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Bjørn Jahnsen, he added.

Agcaoili gave no dates on their arrival and their possible meeting with Duterte.

Duterte has cancelled the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP since November last year. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

NDFP calls for Silva’s release

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief peace negotiator Fidel Agcaoili called for the release of Adelberto Silva who was arrested with four others Monday afternoon by Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) forces in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

“It’s a big setback on the peace process and the NDFP calls on the GRP to release the five detainees,” Agcaoili told Kodao.

Agcaoili said they strongly condemn the arrest of a “leading member” of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms in its peace process with the GRP.

He added that Silva has been conducting consultations with representatives of different sectors of society in connection with the prospective Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

Agcaoili said that even the GRP is conducting unilateral consultations on the substantive agenda.

The NDFP chief negotiator told Kodao that both sides agreed in June 2018 when the GRP suspended the scheduled resumption of formal talks to study the draft agreements and that the two Parties (GRP and NDFP) would conduct separate and unilateral consultations with the people and their respective constituencies on the progress of the talks.

President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled the fifth round of formal talks for the fifth time in June in order for him to “study the documents” forged by GRP negotiators with the NDFP.

Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza also said that, in cancelling the formal round of talks last June, Duterte wanted to consult the general public he said are part of the “bigger peace table.”

“And they prevent NDFP negotiators who are doing the same,” Agcaoili said.

Silva was arrested with three other activists and their driver by Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The five were taken to the CIDG headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City last night.

They have been taken back to Sta. Cruz, Laguna Tuesday afternoon for inquest proceedings on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

As NDFP peace consultant, Silva is supposedly immune from surveillance, arrest and harassment under the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

GRP Negotiating Panel chairperson and labor secretary Silvestre Bello III has yet to respond to Kodao’s requests for a statement.

Bello is reportedly in Al Khobar to meet with overseas Filipino workers in eastern Saudi Arabia. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP welcomes House resolution urging Duterte to resume talks

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines welcomed a resolution by a special committee of the House of Representatives urging the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to resume its peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

In a statement, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said the resolution is a positive move by the committee members that contributes to calls of various other sectors and groups to continue the peace negotiations.

The Special Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity chaired by Tawi-Tawi Representative Ruby Sahali passed the resolution Wednesday, September 12, urging the resumption of the peace talks terminated by Duterte in November 2017.

“It is highly imperative that Congress hears and echoes the Filipino people’s desire for the resumption of the peace negotiations and for the GRP and NDF to forge substantive agreements that will resolve the root causes of the nearly five-decade old armed conflict,” the resolutions reads.

“It is the cause for a just and lasting peace itself that is the very compelling reason to continue the peace negotiations,” the resolution, co-authored by Sahali and Reps. Jesus Nonato Sacdalan, Lourdes Acosta, Leopoldo Bataoil, Deogracias Victor Savellano, Lawrence Fortun, Rodante Marcoleta, adds.

The resolution further states that continuing the peace talks would benefit the Filipino people, most of whom are poor peasants and workers, as the agreement on agrarian reform and national industrialization may address their issues and concerns and help provide relief for their economic hardships.

“We hope this welcome move by the House Special Committee can encourage President Duterte to go back to the negotiating table and work towards a just and lasting peace,” Agcaoili said.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza for his part thanked the Committee, adding the GRP has not totally terminated the talks.

“We know very well that the President had already cancelled the peace negotiations, but he had said the table for the door for resumption is still wide open. We did not totally shut this,” Dureza was quoted as saying by the House of Representatives Press and Public Affairs Bureau.

Open and without preconditions

In his statement, Agcaoili said the NDFP said it is always open to resumption of peace negotiations but in accordance with all signed agreements with the GRP and without preconditions.

He said the agreements include The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantee, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

Agcaoili added that when Duterte unilaterally terminated the peace talks, significant advancements in the negotiations have already been made, such as tentative agreements on the sections of agrarian reform and rural development and national industrialization and economic development of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), coordinated unilateral ceasefire, and amnesty of all political prisoners listed by the NDFP.

“These agreements had been formulated and initialed by representatives of the GRP and NDFP during the monthly informal or back channel talks from March to June 2018 and were subject to finalization in the aborted fifth round of formal talks [last] June 28,” Agcaoili said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Esperon’s claim on Joma’s health ‘fake news’–NDFP

The chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines slammed the government’s national security adviser for spreading lies against Prof. Jose Ma. Sison’s heath, saying Hermogenes Esperon Jr. is an active purveyor of fake news.

NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili in a statement said that contrary to the security adviser’s claim that Sison is seriously ill, the group’s chief political consultant is “very well and has fully recovered from his arthritis last year.”

“Look at his face, isn’t he sick? That is expected, but let me not go into details. But he is really ill,” Esperon told reporters in Quezon City Friday, the Philippine Star reported.

Contrary to Esperon’s claim, however, Agcaoili said Sison is up and about, conducting interviews with journalists and many others.

“His mind remains as sharp as ever and his analysis of political situations as incisive, brilliant and comprehensive as before,” Agcaoili said.

Seventy nine year-old Sison had been hospitalized several times since late 2016 due to several health complaints his comrades attributed to advancing age but has been very active lately, granting interviews and issuing statements to both Philippine-based and international journalists.

Lying Esperon

On the other hand, Agcaoili added, Esperon remains a “pathological liar” just as when he dismissed the many cases of extrajudicial killings of activists in 2006 as the doings of “internal purges” in the revolutionary movement.

“His allegation was dismissed by Prof. Philip Alston, then UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, as ‘especially unconvincing’ and the document presented as bearing ‘all the hallmarks of a fabrication and cannot be taken as evidence of anything other than disinformation,’” Agcaoili said.

Alston at the time concluded that “there is no reasonable doubt that the military is responsible for a significant number of the killings and that subsequent evidence points to the continuing nature of that practice.”

Esperon was Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff in 2006.

Agcaoili added that Esperon also lied when he implied that the Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph E. Estrada governments have conspired with the NDFP in attempting to topple the Manila government by signing The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

“Such nonsense!” Agcaoli said.

On the so-called localized peace talks being pushed by the Rodrigo Duterte government, Agcaoili suggested that Esperon read the statements of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the National Operational Command of the New People’s Army, as well as the NDFP territorial units and regional commands rejecting the scheme.

Agcaoili said that Esperon must first know the positions of revolutionary forces on the ground “before he embarks on this road show meant only to line the pockets of bureaucrats, military commanders and faked surrenderers.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Lorenzana, Año and Roque sounding death knell on talks—Agcaoili

Verbal attacks by government officials against Professor Jose Maria Sison is sounding like the death knell on the peace talks under the Rodrigo Duterte regime, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili said that the orchestrated tirades against Sison by Defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana, acting Interior and Local Government secretary Eduardo Año and presidential spokesperson Harry Roque are purely lies and attacks by “peace spoilers.”

Lorenzana, Año and Roque have repeatedly blamed Sison for the impasse on the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines after the prospective fifth round of formal talks has been cancelled for the fifth time last month.

“Let us not be lulled or hoodwinked by Sison’s glib tongue about reforms. They will institute reforms all right, but along communist lines when they have finally won,” Lorenzana said in a recent statement.

“In fact, they don’t even have to win because their socialistic CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms) , which they are trying to ram down our throats, will ensure that they will have a foothold in governance,” he added.

Año also accused Sison of being out of touch with what is happening in the Philippines while Roque in turn said the Communist Party of the Philippines founder is “arrogant”.

Agcaoili, however, said the GRP officials are falsely blaming the wrong person for the impasse, adding it is Duterte who should be blamed for the problems faced by the negotiations.

“Lorenzana, Año and Roque must have been in another planet when GRP President Duterte issued Proclamation 360 terminating the peace talks. That proclamation has never been rescinded impliedly or otherwise,” Agcaoili said.

“In fact Duterte postponed the mutually agreed upon date for resumption of the formal talks on June 28-30, 2018, in Oslo, Norway, which would have been the occasion to remove the impediments put up by the GRP to move the peace negotiations forward,” he added.

‘Not even original’

Agcaoili also clarified it was the government that suggested a coalition government with the NDFP.

“For the record, the NDFP has never put forward any demand for a coalition government. This has been clarified several times by Prof. Jose Maria Sison to the GRP and the Third Party Facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government, since October 2017,” he said.

Agcaoili said it was during the time of former President Benigno Aquino when former GRP chief negotiator Alex Padilla under orders by then Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles who raised the spectre of a coalition government.

Agcaoili added that it was also with the Aquino administration that the NDFP draft of CASER was originally described as “socialist”.

“So, an allegedly anti-Aquino regime has adopted the false narrative of its arch enemy to waylay the peace talks,” Agcaoili said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Joma says only NDFP Council decides on talks termination

Jose Maria Sison clarified that he did not terminate the peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), saying it is only their group’s National Council that can make the decision to suspend, cancel or terminate their peace negotiations with the government.

“[The NDFP] has not yet made such a decision,” Sison said in a statement Friday, June 29.

Reacting to news reports that he has cancelled or terminated the peace negotiations, Sison said that he only made a critical review of GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s behaviour in relation to the stalled peace negotiations.

“I deplored among other things his failure to fulfil his promise to amnesty and release all political prisoners and his repeated whimsical termination of the negotiations as many as three times. It is very likely that he will convert his three-month suspension of the formal talks to one more termination,” Sison said.

In his presentation to a forum entitled “Political implications of the current impasse and prospects of the GRP-NDFP peace talks Thursday, Sison said that based on the implications drawn from the current impasse, the NDFP can no longer negotiate with a GRP that is headed by Duterte.

“So long as he heads the GRP, the Filipino people, especially the oppressed and exploited, cannot expect any benefit from negotiating with the Duterte regime,” Sison, speaking via online streaming from The Netherlands, said.

In his clarification issued Friday, Sison said he made the estimate that Duterte will render the resumption of formal negotiations impossible by imposing on the NDFP the demand that the venue be shifted to Manila.

“The NDFP will not agree to such a demand because it violates the JASIG (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) provision for a neutral venue abroad and because NDFP does not want to put its negotiating panel and related personnel under the control, surveillance and duress by Duterte and the military,” Sison said.

Sison added he let Duterte have the singular dishonor of repeatedly terminating the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations within so short a time, repeatedly pointing out that Duterte is not interested in the peace negotiations but in scapegoating the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and NPA (New People’s Army) for the purpose of declaring martial law nationwide or a state of emergency “in his mad drive to establish a fascist dictatorship under the guise of charter change to federalism.”

“In this regard, I have observed that it would be easier to cause the ouster of Duterte than to expect a just and honorable peace agreement with GRP under his command,” Sison explained.

Sison earlier said that while NDFP is not completely closing the door on the peace negotiations, the NDFP will study very carefully any offer by the government to resume formal peace negotiations.

‘Let Duterte do it’

In the said forum, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said their group has always readied itself for any breakdown in the talks.

“It’s nearing untenable stratus,” Agcaoili, also speaking via online streaming, said, citing the Duterte government’s new measures like the crackdown on street loiterers and continuing killings linked to its drug war.

Acaoili also said Duterte’s incendiary remarks, the arrests and killings of activists and threats against churches and human rights groups are meant to provoke rebel forces.

Agcaoili said Duterte should be the one to finally terminate formal peace negotiations with the NDFP.

Siya mag-terminate,” Agcaoili said. (Let [Duterte] terminate.)

“Any side can move to terminate. But if we walk first, he will use it as an excuse to unleash his fascist dictatorship,” he added.

Agcaoili said the revolutionary forces must not let down its guard against Duterte.

“Revolutionary and progressive forces must exercise vigilance and be committed to act in self-defense, especially forces in the underground,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Duterte postpones resumption of formal GRP-NDFP talks

Government peace adviser Jesus Dureza announced President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to postpone the scheduled June 28 resumption of formal peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

In a press briefing in Malacañan Thursday, Dureza said the initial timeline both parties worked on had to be “necessarily adjusted” after Duterte instructed to government panel to “engage the bigger peace table, the general public.”

“Our peace efforts to succeed should have good support from the general public. Hence, it is necessary that all efforts must be exerted first to inform then engage them in the same way that the government engages the rebels in addressing the root causes of conflict,” Dureza explained.

It was earlier announced that the thrice-cancelled fifth round of formal talks shall be held on June 28 to 30 after a week of implementing a seven day “stand down agreement” between their respective armed forces starting June 21

“We are now on the cusp of major breakthroughs in the peace talks, hence the urgent need now to take deliberate steps to ensure that we do not falter. Just and sustainable and lasting peace will happen only when our people understand and support these efforts,” Dureza added.

Dureza said that GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III has already called his counterpart to inform them of Duterte’s postponement of the talks.

He added that GRP representatives are set to fly to The Netherlands to personally explain the GRP decision.

Setback

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said they consider the postponement a setback from the schedule that both parties have already agreed upon.

Agcaoili revealed that even before Dureza’s announcement to postpone both the “stand down agreement” and the resumption of formal talks on June 21 and June 28, respectively, the GRP has already told him and the Third Party Facilitator (TPF), the Royal Norwegian Government, of its unilateral decision.

“The GRP also said they would send a team here to The Netherlands this weekend to explain to us the basis of their decision and the Third Party Facilitator shall be present,” Agcaoili told Kodao.

“Of course we consider this a setback from the schedule that we have already agreed upon. But we are ready to receive their team this weekend to explain to us the reasons for their unilateral decision to make adjustments to the schedule,” Agcaoili said.

The NDFP chief negotiator said he was told by the GRP that Duterte wants to study the documents of the four backchannel talks since he ordered the resumption of the negotiations last March.

“But there may also be other reasons. Remember, before he even met his peace panel yesterday, Duterte already announced that the resumption of the talks shall be in mid-July,” Agcaoili said.

He added that the NDFP panel considers the development as merely a rescheduling of the talks, given that GRP courts have agreed to allow six NDFP negotiators to travel to Oslo, Norway for the resumption of formal negotiations.

The six are Benito Tiamzon, Allan Jazmines, Rafael Baylosis, Adelberto Silva, Randall Echanis and Vicente Ladlad.

“The only problem is that the six have yet to be issued visa and departure orders,” Agcaoili said.

The GRP has also yet to answer NDFP and TPF’s queries on the finalization of the coordinated unilateral ceasefire as well as the agrarian reform and rural development and national industrialization and economic development sections of the prospective comprehensive social and economic agreement, he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)