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Jalandoni won’t be arrested should peace talks resume

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National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) leader Luis Jalandoni will not be arrested should there be a resumption of peace talks, Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this clarification after Jalandoni reportedly cancelled his trip back to the Philippines this month due to threat of arrest by the government.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte earlier ordered Panelo and Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza to meet with Jalandoni and his colleague, Fidel Agcaoili in an informal chat.

“First, we talk informally. If we agree on the resumption of peace talks then we will agree on the date and time of the peace talks. And hence, there can be no warrant of arrest being effected during the talks,” Panelo said in a television interview.

“It goes without saying that if there is a resumption of any informal talks or formal peace talks, (Department of the Interior and Local Government) Secretary (Eduardo) Año would not be effecting any arrest,” he added.

Panelo expressed hope that the meeting would push through if the terms and conditions were agreed upon.

“We have to agree on the terms and condition. We have to make sure that they will not be violating any condition as they did before — the very reason why the talk has been cancelled,” Panelo said.

He stressed that Jalandoni’s fear of arrest did not mean that informal talks were cancelled.

“There is no cancellation of any informal talk. What we have is one of them saying that he is afraid of being arrested. And we’re saying that you cannot be arrested if you would want to have a talk,” Panelo said.

In October, Duterte bared he was unsure if peace talks with communist rebels would resume any time soon, admitting that he was “not ready” to talk to them.

However, a month before, the President said he expected the war against communists to be over by the second quarter of next year since many of the rebels have begun laying down their arms.

Duterte earlier postponed the scheduled resumption of peace negotiations between the government and the NDFP due to continued attacks by rebel groups against the military. (PNA)