Duterte asks Joma for ‘final draft’ of peace deal, says no arrests on returning NDF leaders

Published November 23, 2018, 1:34 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has challenged communist leader Jose Maria Sison to present a “final draft” peace agreement amid the proposed informal talks between the government and the rebel group.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

The President also guaranteed that the government would not arrest National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants Fidel Agcaoili and Luis Jalandoni if they return to the country for the informal peace talks with government representatives.

“I’ll talk to Sison. Give me the final draft and if I like it, I’ll pass it on to the military and the police,” Duterte said during the inauguration of the Cavite Gateway Terminal in Tanza, Cavite last Thursday.

Duterte said he would consult the military and police about the proposed peace deal with the communist rebel group since he does not want the troops to launch a coup d’etat against him.

He said he also intends to let Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to look into the peace proposal from the rebel group.

“This is a democracy. We share powers here for the benefit and for the good of the country. Remember that,” he said in another speech during the 35th founding anniversary of the Army Reserve Command in Cavite.

The President offered safe passage for Agcaoili and Jalandoni in the country, saying they could talk to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and Labor Secretary and chief government peace negotiator Silvestre Bello III without getting arrested.

“Sabi ni Agcaoili hindi sila dito dating kasi hulihin sila. Hindi ko kayo hulihin. [Agcaoli said they would not come here because they will be arrested. I won’t arrest you],” he said.

“Mag-usap kayo ni Bello pati ni Dureza but I will not talk to you. Kung may maganda kayong proposal at tawagin ko si Lorenzana pati si Galvez. “Okay ito sa inyo? Wala tayong talo dito? O sige’ [You talk to Bello and Dureza but I will not talk to you. If you have a good proposal, I will call (Defense Secretary Delfin) Lorenzana and (Armed Forces chief Carlito) Galvez and ask ‘is this okay with you? We’re not at a disadvantage here? Okay, fine],” he added.

Peace negotiations between the government and the communist group collapsed last year following President Duterte’s protest against the rebel attacks on government troops. Duterte denounced the rebel group’s atrocities and moved to declare the group a terrorist organization.