Duterte, Reds meet in Davao | Inquirer News

Duterte, Reds meet in Davao

By: - Correspondent / @kmanlupigINQ
/ 01:33 AM May 26, 2016

Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte chats with NDFP peace panel spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili and wife Chit in Davao City on Wednesday evening. KARLOS MANLUPIG/INQUIRER MINDANAO

DUTERTE WITH NDFP EMISSARIES Presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte meets in Davao City with National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) emissaries, including peace panel spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili, who submitted a list of candidates for Cabinet positions. KARLOS MANLUPIG/INQUIRER MINDANAO

DAVAO CITY—“I’m sorry to keep you waiting,” presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said as he entered a pink-curtained room in a hotel here on Tuesday evening.

In the room was the delegation from the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), led by its peace panel spokesperson, Fidel Agcaoili, and a consultant, Vicente Ladlad.


Over bibingka, suman and boiled banana paired with ginamos (fish paste), the NDFP delegation submitted a list of nominees for possible Cabinet appointees and discussed with Duterte details of the resumption of the stalled peace negotiations.


The three-hour meeting was very candid, with Duterte and the NDFP officials swapping jokes.

Duterte earlier announced he had reserved the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Agrarian Reform and Department of Environment and Natural Resources for progressive groups.

The NDFP chief political consultant, Jose Maria Sison, earlier said that the Communist Party of the Philippines was grateful for the offer but it would politely beg off and would instead allow other groups and personalities to fill in the positions.


List of nominees

Asked who were on the short list, Agcaoili requested to maintain  its confidentiality until Duterte makes his final decision.


“We will wait for Duterte to make his decision and his final announcement,” Agcaoili said.

Duterte said he would disclose the final list of his Cabinet officials after taking his oath on June 30.

“At the very least, when I take my oath of office. I have to submit it to the screening committee,” Duterte told the Inquirer.

But both Duterte and the NDFP hinted to the Inquirer that the list included people from the academe, former lawmakers and progressive leaders, who have worked with workers and farmers.


Like his other appointees, Duterte said he would personally do the vetting, but the screening committee would help prepare the credentials of the nominees.

“The people, who were recommended, will be considered for the positions that they have applied for. It’s OK with me,” Duterte commented.

Showing good faith in his efforts for peace, the tough-talking official said he would also open other positions for progressive groups and even communist leaders.

“And I am open for many more, as we are driven by one thing,” Duterte said, referring to his passion to solve poverty,  corruption and other forms of social injustices.

Honesty, competence

Duterte added that he would continue to look for people who were honest and competent, regardless of their political beliefs and economic status.

“The sole consideration is—Are you competent? Well, of course, honesty or competence. Whether you belong to the right or the left, or wherever you came up or down I really don’t care if you are there to serve the country, as I have also committed,” he  said.

Duterte disclosed that aside from the appointments to the Cabinet, he also discussed with the NDFP delegation the prospects of not just resuming but also accelerating the peace negotiations.

Political prisoners

He also vowed to release hundreds of political prisoners, including NDFP consultants either, through pardon or general amnesty.

“I have no problem with that. It is about time that we succeed. It’s time to forget the left or right. It will be a process of reconciliation and healing just like my decision if ever I will allow the burial of (the late dictator Ferdinand) Marcos,” Duterte told the Inquirer.

He said he knew that many Ilocanos were still hurting because of this issue, and that allowing the dictator to have a soldier’s burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani was a step toward healing.

He encouraged the victims of the Marcos regime to help in the healing process and start working on getting their claims after winning a class suit against the Marcoses.

Duterte added that cases could still be pursued by the victims. Earlier, he said that he would launch a massive cleansing of the Department of Justice to ensure a working justice system in the country.

“It’s time to start thinking about the Filipino. The love of country. It would be good for us to learn to forget what is right and left,” he said.


For Ladlad, Duterte offering his hand of peace is a unique one and that the NDFP believes in his sincerity.

“We are confident that Duterte is sincere the same way the NDFP is sincere in the negotiations,” Ladlad said.

Ladlad said he was one of those released when then President Corazon Aquino granted amnesty to all political prisoners, but there was no offer that time to explore ways of working together in addressing the problems of the country.

Both Ladlad and Agcaoili refused to divulge the details of their  discussions about the negotiations, but said that they were making good progress.

They also said that a meeting between Duterte and Sison was being pursued and that it would help accelerate the peace negotiations.

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“We are having our talks. We hope to arrive at a very good solution,”  Duterte said.

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