Duterte open to meet NDFP negotiators

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 11) — President Rodrigo Duterte revealed he was open to meeting two members of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) who requested to see him.

In his speech at the Subaraw Biodiverstiy Festival in Palawan Sunday, the President said, "(Fidel) Agcaoili and (Luis) Jalandoni — I will not keep it a secret. I do not want iyang confidential-confidential. Pupunta dito sabi nila gusto nila akong kausapin. Ang problema nila pagkahinuli sila."

[Translation: Agcaoili and Jalandoni — I will not keep it a secret. I do not like keeping it confidential. They will come here and said they want to talk to me. Their problem is if they get arrested.]

Fidel Agcaoili is chairperson of the NDFP negotiating panel; Luis Jalandoni is a senior adviser to the NDFP negotiating panel.

Duterte said he called for a cluster meeting to discuss the matter, and was told that the arrest was possible, but not a certainty.

The President added he would announce whether or not the meeting with the NDFP would happen after he returned from meetings in Papua New Guinea and Singapore this month.

"So sabi ko talagang huhulihin kayo. Sabi niya, gusto daw nila ako makipag - makipag-ano sa kanila. So nagtawag ako ng cluster meeting kasali na mga military... Sabi nila, baka. Baka pala. It's not a very big margin there. Pero baka pala. So, when I go back after Papua New Guinea and Singapore, I will make the announcement. Kaya usap tayo ulit kasi baka, baka pala."

[Translation: I told them they would really be arrested. They said they wanted to (meet). So I called for a cluster meeting along with the military... They said maybe. It's a maybe. It's not a very big margin there. But it's a maybe. So when I get back after Papua New Guinea and Singapore, I will make the announcement. We'll talk again then because it's a maybe.]

In a statement Sunday, Agcaoili confirmed he and Jalandoni would be returning to the country in November, along with NDFP peace panel member Coni Ledesma.

"Ms. Coni Ledesma and I have a scheduled a trip to the Philippines this month in connection with our work as members of the NDFP component in the Joint Monitoring Committee under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL)," he said.

He added they were also invited to meet with Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Bjørn Jahnsen.

"In this regard, we welcome the opportunity to meet with the President unless he does not want to or his military is against it," he said.

In June, the communist group said it has given up on talking with the government.