NDF, peace panel cancel return to PH due to arrest threat

Inquirer.net

National Democratic Front (NDF) Peace Panel chairman Fidel Agcaoili, NDF Senior Adviser Luis Jalandoni and Peace Panel member Coni Ledesma canceled their scheduled return to the Philippines due to the impending arrest threat from President Rodrigo Duterte.

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) Founding chairman Jose Maria Sison shared on the NDF website about how Agcaoili and his constituents were scheduled to return on Monday, November 19. However, the government has yet to clarify that no arrest or harassment will be made.

“Fidel (Agcaoili) also feels insecure and wants to be assured that there will be no threat against him from the military or police despite assurance of safety from (presidential peace adviser) Jess Dureza and Bebot Bello (government chief peace negotiator) that there is no pending charge against him,” Sison said as reported by The Philippine Star.

“But Louie (Luis Jalandoni) and Coni (Ledesma) have already decided not to return to the Philippines due to threats of arrest from General Año (Interior Secretary Eduardo Año),” Sison added.

Agcaoili, Jalandoni and Ledesma are supposed to meet with Duterte so that they could resume the peace talks they had before. However, no assurance was given to ensure that the Philippine National Police (PNP) or the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will keep their hands off them during their stay in the Philippines.

In a statement, Dureza said President Duterte has ordered them to meet Agcaoili and Jalandoni should they come to the Philippines. The peace process adviser even set the meeting between Duterte and NDF leaders next week.

“President Duterte has tasked me and secretary Panelo to meet with them in an informal chat. I am now on my way to head the Philippine delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in New York so the planned meeting may take place upon my return next week,” Dureza said.

Dureza assured that he had checked and found that Agcaoili and Jalandoni had no pending warrants of arrest. He even added that the petition filed at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to declare the CPP, its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA) and the NDF as terrorist groups remains pending and still not implemented

However, Secretary Año seemed to contradict the peace process adviser. He claimed that the two communist leaders have both pending warrants of arrest in Quezon province and would be arrested unless President Duterte orders otherwise.

Sison also added that the NDF lawyers were threatened since Jalandoni and Ledesma are included in the list of 600 proscription cases connected with Proclamation 374. The legal consultants said that the two might face court summonings as soon as they arrive in the country. 

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