Duterte open to meeting exiled communist leaders

Rambo Talabong
President Rodrigo Duterte says self-exiled communist leaders Fidel Agcaoili and Luis Jalandoni requested a meeting with him in the Philippines

TALKS AGAIN? President Rodrigo Duterte says a meeting with communist peace negotiators is a 'maybe' for him and the military. Malacañang file photo

MANILA, Philippines – Saying he will decide on this matter soon, President Rodrigo Duterte announced he is open to meeting with two top National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants who have requested to see him in the Philippines.

In a speech in Puerto Princesa City on Saturday, November 10, Duterte said the request came from NDF chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili and senior adviser Luis Jalandoni.

Duterte said he will announce whether the meeting will push through after he attends regional meetings in Singapore and Papua New Guinea in mid-November.

“Agcaoili and Jalandoni — I will not keep it a secret. I do not want iyang confidential-confidential (to make it confidential). Pupunta dito, sabi nila gusto nila akong kausapin (They said they will go here, they said they want to speak with me),” Duterte said.

Ang problema nila ‘pagka hinuli sila. So sabi ko, ‘Talagang huhulihin kayo’ (Their problem is they could be arrested. I said, ‘You will really be arrested’),” Duterte added.

Facing the threat of arrest from Duterte himself, consultants like Agcaoili and Jalandoni have been forced into hiding overseas.

The President did not disclose what Jalandoni and Agcaoili wanted to speak with him about, but the government has been on a crackdown on communist armed insurgents and consultants since the collapse of peace talks in November 2017.

The government has since floated the possibility of resumption of peace talks in July. One of the principal conditions is that the talks should be held in the Philippines. 

Duterte said he had called for a cluster meeting with the military to decide his next steps.

So nagtawag ako ng cluster meeting kasali na mga military. ‘So what do you think?’ Sabi nila, baka. Baka pa lang. It’s not a very big margin there. Pero baka pa lang,” Duterte recounted.

(I called for a cluster meeting with the military. I said, ‘What do you think?’ They said maybe. Just maybe. It’s not a very big margin here. It’s just maybe.) – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.