Record Straight on Our Aborted Trip to the Philippines
Fidel V. Agcaoili
November 20, 2018
I wish to set the record straight regarding our aborted trip to the Philippines scheduled last November 18, 2018.
1. On October 10, 2018, Ms. Coni Ledesma and I decided to go to the Philippines in connection with our work as members of the NDFP section in the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). We would be accompanied by Mr. Luis Jalandoni, senior adviser of the NDFP Panel. We scheduled the trip in mid-November and informed Ms. Idun Tvedt, the Special Envoy of the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) to the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
2. On October 19, we received an invitation from the RNG Embassy in Manila to meet with the new RNG Ambassador and his staff. The courtesy call was set on November 20 at 2 pm at the Embassy.
3. On November 7, it was suggested that we meet also with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte while in Manila, considering that more than three months have passed since the GRP postponed the scheduled resumption of formal talks in Oslo, Norway, on June 28, 2018. We welcomed the suggestion and asked a mutual friend to help facilitate the appointment. On November 13, an official appointment with the President was set on November 23 for me and four others.
4. On November 14, I received a message from Presidential Spokesman and Chief Legal Counsel Sec. Salvador Panelo asking for preparatory meetings with us, together with Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Jesus Dureza, before the appointment with the President on November 23. We agreed to the meetings taking into account our scheduled arrival in the country on the evening of November 19 and our appointment with the Norwegian Ambassador in the afternoon of November 20.
5. On November 16, DILG Sec. Eduardo Ano 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. 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 and NPA.
6. On November 18, I was told that the appointment with the President had been cancelled and that I would only be meeting with Sec. Panelo and Sec. Dureza but that such a 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.
For the record, too, my name and that of Mr. Asterio Palima, as publicly known members of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, are not included in the list of 600 in the above-mentioned proscription case against the CPP and NPA. As far as I know, too, I have no outstanding case in any GRP courts.###