NDFP advisers cancel PH trip due to security, arrest threats

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 20) — National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel Chairperson Fidel Agcaoili on Tuesday confirmed that he, along with other NDFP negotiators, will not push through with the trip to the Philippines.

In a statement, Agcaoili cited security and arrest threats as some of the reasons behind the panel's decision.

He also noted President Rodrigo Duterte's supposed disinterest in peace talks with the revolutionaries as one of the reasons behind the cancellation.

"On November 16, DILG (dDepartment of Interior and Local Government) Sec. Eduardo Año issued a statement that we would be arrested upon our arrival unless the President says otherwise. At around the same time on the same day, President Duterte said in Papua New Guinea that he was not yet prepared to resume talks with the revolutionary movement," Agcaoili said in the statement.

"As a consequence, we decided the following day to forego with the trip of Mr. Jalandoni and Ms. Ledesma whose names are in the so-called proscription case against the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and NPA (New People's Army)," he said.

On November 18, Agcaoili said he was informed that the meeting with Duterte had been cancelled, and that he will instead talk to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo and Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza.

Agcaoili, then, decided not to push through with his own trip as such meeting "might not prove useful without a new perspective."

"As a consequence, we decided that I also forego with my trip scheduled for that evening for security consideration," he added.

Earlier this month, Duterte said he was open to the idea of meeting the NDFP negotiators.

Last Sunday, Dureza said the meeting will push through. He also earlier mentioned that the NDFP officials will not be arrested upon arrival as there are no pending warrants against them.

Panelo, in a statement, meanwhile, said the NDFP members' fear of arrest is "misplaced."

The spokesperson added that Año's previous pronouncement was made when the peace talks was cancelled by the President due to the violations of the ceasefire agreement with the communist groups.

"Mr. Jalandoni's intention in returning to the country is to promote the peace talks between their movement and the Philippine government. He is assured, therefore, that no arrest will be effected upon his person," Panelo said.