No warrantless arrest for NDFP leaders when they come to PH, Dureza says

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NDFP Chief Negotiator Fidel Agcaoili (third from left) earlier confirmed he would be returning to the country in November, along with other NDFP officials.

Davao City (CNN Philippines, November 16) — High-ranking officials of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which represents communist rebels in peace talks, will not be arrested during their expected return to the country this month, a government peace official said Friday.

"Last time I checked there is no pending warrant of arrest for Fidel Agcaoili and Luis Jalandoni so they will not be arrested not unless they will break some laws in our country," Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said in a media forum in Davao City.

Agcaoili is chairperson of the NDFP negotiating panel while Jalandoni is a senior adviser. They earlier confirmed a trip to the country this month in connection with their work as peace negotiators. They said they also wanted to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte, who terminated peace negotiations in November 2017, said he was open to talking to the NDFP leaders, but raised the possibility of them being arrested.

READ: Duterte open to meet NDFP negotiators

But Dureza on Friday stressed an arrest is not likely. He added that members of the NDFP and the Communist Party of the Philippines, along with its armed wing New People's Army are not tagged as terrorists now since the court has not approved the Department of Justice's petition to declare them as such.

"The DOJ petition to classify them as terrorist is still pending. There is no tagging as terrorists as of this time," Dureza said.

NDFP consultants who were released for the peace process, however, face the possibility of arrest as Malacañang said that Duterte's order to put them back in jail with the termination of peace talks still stands.

The latest NDFP consultant to be arrested, Vicente Ladlad, will now be detained at the Metro Manila District Jail in Taguig City for illegal possession of firearms, police said Friday.

READ: NDFP consultant Vic Ladlad arrested

Duterte said he will no longer negotiate with communist rebels but is now pushing for localized peace talks. The NDFP refuses to participate in talks with local government officials and calls for the resumption of formal peace negotiations.

The Duterte government is the sixth administration to try to talk to the NDFP in a bid to end the communist movement's nearly five decades of armed insurgency, the longest-running in Asia.

CNN Philippines' Justine Dizon and Eimor P. Santos contributed to this report.