A statement by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) delivered by AFP public affairs office chief Col. Noel Detoyato clarified that the country’s military forces are fully supportive of all peace initiatives between the Philippine government and insurgent movements like the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
“The AFP supports peace initiatives and dialogues. We are always thinking positively that peace initiatives will result to favorable conditions towards peace that will benefit the peace-loving Filipinos,” said Detoyato while speaking to reporters on Monday.
President Rodrigo Duterte and peace negotiators from the NDFP have recently expressed openness to starting peace talks anew, including discussing the possibility of a meeting between the parties.
“While your AFP is always prepared for war, we are also prepared for peace,” Detoyato stressed. In the same statement, he affirmed that genuine and lasting peace is a priority for the AFP.
NDFP negotiating panel chair Fidel V. Agcaoili had earlier said that he and Coni Ledesma, another prominent member of the leftist movement, have scheduled a trip to the Philippines for November this year. The trip’s itinerary is in connection with their work for the NDFP component in the Joint Monitoring Committee under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). The pair will be accompanied by Luis Jalandoni, who serves as Senior Adviser to the NDFP Negotiating Panel.
Agcaolii has said that he would be open to meeting with President Duterte, should the Commander-in-Chief and the Philippine military be amenable to it.
“In this regard, we welcome the the opportunity to meet with the President unless he does not want to or his military is against it,” said Agcaoili.
During their visit, Agcaoili and Ledesma could also possibly meet with the new Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines.
President Duterte disclosed over the weekend the discussions he had with Agcaoili and Jalandoni about the possible meeting. He has consulted with the AFP about the matter and his decision is slated to be announced next week upon his return from Singapore and Papua New Guinea.
“Agcaoili and Jalandoni — I will not keep it a secret. I do not want iyang confidential-confidential. Pupunta dito sabi nila gusto nila akong kausapin. Ang problema nila pagka hinuli sila. So sabi ko talagang huhulihin kayo [I don’t want it confidential. They said they will go here to talk to me but the problem is they will be caught. I said, I will really arrest you],” said Duterte while visiting Palawan on Saturday, November 10.