NDF: Efforts to resume peace talks underway

Davao City (CNN Philippines) — Long, cordial, friendly — this is how National Democratic Front (NDF) spokesperson Fidel Agcaoli described his meeting with presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte.

Agcaoli told CNN Philippines on Thursday (May 19) he discussed suggestions to speed up the resumption of peace talks with the Davao City mayor, who told him that he plans to grant a general amnesty to all political prisoners.

He said he also presented as gifts books authored by Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Joma Sison and NDF chief peace panel negotiator Luis Jalandoni in a meeting Tuesday that lasted for more than two hours.

Related: Duterte readies for Philippine peace talks restart as rebel team arrives

Agcaoili said Duterte wanted to travel to the Netherlands to talk with Sison, who has been living in the Dutch city of Utrecht since 1987.

He said Duterte's emissaries are working on documents needed to resume the talks. Peace negotiations have been on and off in the previous administrations.

Agacaoli said the rebels are setting no pre-conditions to restart the talks with the incoming Duterte government. He said a possible ceasefire still has to be discussed in detail.

Duterte, who has been mayor for over 20 years, has built friendly ties with the New People’s Army in Davao and other parts of Mindanao, often acting as go-between in the release of police, soldiers and other captives seized by the rebels during guerrilla operations.

Agcaoili said he and Duterte also talked about reaffirming previous deals on human rights, socio-economic, political and constitutional reforms and cessation of hostilities.

The communist-led movement is pushing for genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization so that wealth would trickle down to the poor and broaden the reach of basic government services.

Agcaoili said Duterte's proposed federalism won’t be a problem so long as its objectives are clear and plans are laid out well.

He said they were disappointed with the Aquino administration when the peace negotiations brokered by Norway stalled.

"They are too self-righteous, arrogant, insensitive kita naman sa Mamasapano, Yolanda, etc. [as we saw in Mamasapano, Yolanda]," said Agcaoili.

The CPP has high hopes on Duterte's presidency but it is also aware that some quarters like the U.S. government and the Philippine military may object to their involvement in government, Agcaoili said.

Agcaoli said there's no split within the rebel movement, and that they are also in good terms with other leftist groups in the country.

He said they are looking for the right nominees for the four Cabinet posts offered to them.

Duterte has said he will open to the communists the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Agrarian Reform, Social Welfare and Labor and Employment.

Also read: Duterte offering Cabinet posts to the CPP