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.
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)