Even after the police arrested Vic Ladlad, consultant of the National Democratic Front, the NDF’s chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili and colleague Luis Jalandoni confirmed that they will return to the country by next month for possible talks with President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte had said over the weekend that Agcaoili and Jalandoni have requested to see him this November.
Agcaoili’s trip to the country, according to an earlier statement, is in connection with their work in the Joint Monitoring Committee under an agreement with the government that seeks to preserve human rights during armed conflict.
He added that his group, which includes NDF panelist Coni Ledesma, was also “invited to meet with the new Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines.”
“In this regard, we welcome the opportunity to meet with the President unless he does not want to or his military is against it,” Agcaoili said.
But Duterte said he will decide whether to push through with the meeting after attending a gathering of regional and world leaders in Singapore next week.
Agcaoili and Jalandoni had been forced into hiding after the peace talks between the government and the NDF bogged down due to what the government said was the unabated rebel attacks against government troops.
Negotiations for the resumptions of the talks this year was eventually suspended.
The government also moved to declare the NDF’s armed wing and political arm as terrorist organizations.
Meanwhile, Ladlad’s wife Fides Lim said her husband’s arrest was actually meant to derail the possible resumption of peace negotiations with the government.
Ladlad was arrested Thursday with 2 others for illegal possession of firearms at a house in Novaliches, Quezon City last.
“There really is a strong pull coming from the hawks, who really don’t want peace on the table,” Lim told ANC.
“They are creating, manufacturing, fabricating incidents like the arrest on my husband on the basis of planted evidence to stop the doves or the mood of the moment from having peace talks.”
She alleged that the arresting officers planted firearms, as related to her by the owner of the house, who said that the butt of a firearm was sticking out of a box that officers allegedly planted during the raid.
Lim said that Ladlad is not a member of the New People’s Army and that his work has always been political.
Lim said her husband has chronic asthma that deteriorated into emphysema, but “we are not even making that a condition for his release.”
“He is ready to face the charges against him because they are all fabricated... Ang spirit niya very strong, fighting,” she said.
Ladlad’s arrest came after Duterte ordered the arrest of all NDF consultants after peace talks between the government and communist rebels bogged down last year.
The government earlier arrested NDF consultants Adelberto Silva and Rafael Baylosis.
As this developed, the police dared Ladlad’s camp to file a complaint after his wife claimed that a bank card seized by officers from him last week recorded unauthorized use.
Lim had said that among the personal items seized from her husband was a Landbank Visa debit card that contained the compensation he received for the abuses he suffered during martial law.
Quezon City police director Chief Supt. Joselito Esquivel said Lim should file a formal complaint so it can request a record of the debit card’s transactions from Landbank.
“Mas maganda po iyun ibigay nila sa amin ang detalye para maimbestigahan nang todo. Nagbabalibag po sila ng alegasyon sa ere, ayaw naman mag-complaint,” he told radio DZMM.
Esquivel added that only firearms and documents were seized from Ladlad during the operation with barangay officials and homeowners present.
He added that Lim previously claimed that her cellphone was stolen by officers, only to find out that the device was in her lawyer’s bag.
The police said Lim may also face charges for blocking a police car that was carrying her husband to a police camp, PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde earlier said.
Albayalde also said that there was nothing anomalous about Ladlad’s arrest, after his wife claimed that police planted evidence in their home.
In the House of Representatives, a militant lawmaker urged the Duterte administration to resume the stalled peace talks with the NDF to resolve the country’s decades-long armed insurgency.
Anakpawis party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao said “the festering crisis of Philippine society particularly landlessness among the peasants cannot be solved by military solution.”
“The armed conflict dividing this land is rooted in fundamental socio-economic woes that cannot be resolved by purely using military means. It can only be resolved by addressing the roots, by instituting thorough and deep-going social reforms which are the talking points of the stalled peace talks”, Casilao said.
He said that the reforms in the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms (CASER) aims to resolve massive and abject poverty in the countryside by distributing land for free to poor and landless farmers, an anti-poverty thrust which the GPH panel already agreed in principle.
Casilao also said the Duterte administration must show good faith by releasing NDFP consultants Rafael Baylosis, Adel Silva and Vic Ladlad as they have participated in the peace process and helped draft documents including CASER, National Industrializationand Economic Development and the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Electoral Reforms.
He also urged the government to respect the signed documents which pertain to the protection of both panels’ consultants under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG) as well as the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL).