“While being firm and a good negotiator, your aura has always been appeasing and pleasant, and your generosity and kind heart very present.” — Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Elisabeth Slattum to Luis Jalandoni
OSLO, Norway — The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) announced Fidel Agcaoili’s assumption as its new negotiating panel chairperson as long-time chief Luis Jalandoni assumes his new role as senior adviser.
Agcaoili, erstwhile panel vice chairperson, is expected to deliver NDFP’s opening statement at the start of the second round of formal peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines today.
The national leadership of the NDFP has granted the long-standing request of Jalandoni to resign as the NDFP negotiating panel chairperson.
Jalandoni told reporters in a late night press conference here that he has been wanting to resign as NDFP panel chairperson since he turned 70 years old. “Now that I am 81, I think it is time for the younger ones to take over,” Jalandoni said.
Principled peace negotiator
Jalandoni became the chairperson of the NDFP panel in 1995. He was previously identified as NDFP vice chairperson for international affairs and head of its delegations in earlier agreements such as The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 and The Breukelen Statement of 1994.
Born to a landed family in Negros Occidental, Jalandoni was class valedictorian of his De La Salle University High School class. He studied for the priesthood and again graduated at the top of his class.
As a priest of the Diocese of Bacolod, he was appointed to its Social Action Center by the late Bacolod Bishop Antonio Fortich. Jalandoni left the priesthood in the 1970s and joined the NDFP, later becoming its chief international representative in the early 1980s.
“We credit Comrade Jalandoni for leading the NDFP peace panel in forging many important agreements with the GRP including The Hague Joint Declaration, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law,” NDFP peace consultant Felix Randy Malayao said.
“His firm and principled stand always put the Filipino people’s interests first and that is why he is a very successful negotiator,” Malayao said.
The NDFP also announced the appointment of consultant Benito Tiamzon as its new negotiating panel member.
News of the announcement came as soon as the NDFP arrived in this capital city yesterday. Sources said the GRP immediately knew of the changes in the NDFP panel.
Royal Norwegian Government Special Envoy to the Philippine Peace Process Elisabeth Slattum said it is with great regret that she received the news about Jalandoni’s resignation as chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel.
“You have brought a large amount of grace to these peace negotiations. While being firm and a good negotiator, your aura has always been appeasing and pleasant, and your generosity and kind heart very present,” Slattum wrote Jalandoni.
Slattum however added that she is confident that Agcaoili will be an excellent chairperson and welcomed the addition of Benito Tiamzon to the panel.
Agcaoili was detained and tortured during the Marcos dictatorship. He is a longtime member of the NDFP peace panel and the chairperson of the NDFP Human Rights Committee.