Duterte orders security forces not to arrest NDF chief negotiator
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered security forces not to arrest Fidel Agcaoili, chief peace negotiator of the National Democratic Front (NDF), who arrived in the Philippines last week.
In a speech in Davao City on Tuesday night, Duterte also said he and Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison could be friends again.
"I think Agcaoili has sounded off. He was coming again to talk. And I told the military and the police just allow him for after all it’s just on a --- we are on a waiting period about the appropriate time to talk about peace. I am not that cruel," he said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday Agcaoili arrived last week.
“He (Agcaoili) is already here since last week. His whereabouts are unknown,” he said.
Lorenzana said Duterte's order implies that the government is still open for peace negotiations.
“Meaning the government has not closed the door for peace talks,” Lorenzana said.
“The President has enumerated some conditions for the resumption of peace talks like cessation of their extortion (their so-called revolutionary tax), no burning or equipment, no attack on military, police and civilians. The ball is the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)/NDF’s court if they want to talk peace,” he added.
Duterte, whose term will end by 2022, said he has to fast-track the peace talks with all the rebel groups.
"So with the NPAs (New People's Army), unless we somehow reduce to the barest minimum their sentiments, their hunger for justice, social justice, there will be no peace in the land," Duterte said.
The CPP-NPA-NDF has been waging war against the government for about 50 years.
Duterte, who had a word war with Sison since he terminated the peace talks in 2017, said that he and the CPP leader, who has been in exile in the Netherlands, could be friends again.
"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," he said.
Duterte terminated the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF in November 2017 due to atrocities and extortion the rebels have been committing.
He even issued a proclamation declaring the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations. Celerina Monte-Robina Asido/DMS