By Ralph Villanueva/Manila Times
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Fidel Agcaoili will be allowed to enter the country if he comes back, President Rodrigo Duterte said, as he considered once again reopening peace talks between the government and the rebels.
In a speech during the ninth anniversary of the Mindanao Development Authority and the 25th anniversary of the Brunei Daussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippine East Asean Growth Area in Davao City, Duterte said that it was time to reopen the peace negotiations.
He said that he heard Agcaoili was open to returning to the country and discuss ending the 50-year communist rebellion.
“I think Atty. 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’re on a waiting period about the appropriate time to talk about peace. I am not that cruel,” Duterte said.
In November, Duterte said that Agcaoili and NDF consultant Luis Jalandoni were trying to go back to the country to talk peace.
Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leader Jose Ma.
Sison said, however, that Jalandoni would no longer push through with his return.
Duterte terminated peace talks between the government and the communist group in November 2017 as New People’s Army (NPA) rebels continued to attack state troops.
He then declared the CPP a terror organisation and ordered the arrest of its officials.
Duterte even considered the idea of creating a “Duterte Death Squad” to fight the so-called Sparrow unit of the NPA.
Last year, Duterte issued Memorandum Order (MO) 32, which reinforced the guidelines of the AFP and the PNP in implementing measures to suppress and prevent such lawless violence; Executive Order 70 directing the creation of a national task force to end local communist armed conflict, as well as the adoption of a national peace framework that would contain policies addressing the root causes of insurgencies.
He also tried his hand in holding “localised” peace talks, which Sison slammed. The government said the localised peace talks resulted in thousands of rebel returnees.
Duterte also admitted that the peace talks would not prosper if the government could not reduce “to the barest minimum” the sentiments of the rebels – hunger for justice and social justice.
“So it’s very important that I reduce the struggle for all of us for in the end we cannot be fighting forever, neither as a Moro warrior or as soldier of government,” the president said.
Duterte seemed to have softened on Sison whom he called “friend” despite their heated exchanges in the past.
“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,” Duterte said.
“We have been at it for years. I do not think that if you have not succeeded in just about five years, it’s a lost cause. I suggest that we do not make any demands. We go to the table and to talk about it,” he added.
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