COMMUNIST rebels reorganized their peace negotiating team on the eve of the start of the second round of formal talks with the government in Oslo, Norway.
In a statement on Thursday, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) announced the appointment of Fidel Agcaoili as its new chief peace negotiator, replacing long-time head Luis Jalandoni who resigned.
Agcaoili was vice chairman of the panel and also heads its human rights committee.
The NDFP said Jalandoni had requested that he be allowed to resign. A former priest, the 81-year-old Jalandoni had been chairman of the NDFP panel since 1995. Previously, he was NDFP vice chairman for international affairs.
“The national leadership of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines has granted the long-standing request of Comrade Luis G. Jalandoni to resign as the Chairperson of the NDFP negotiating panel,” the statement said.
Jalandoni will serve as senior adviser to the negotiating team.
The NDFP also named Benito Tiamzon, one of its consultants recently released by the government from jail to kick-start the peace talks, as member of the communist peace panel.
Tiamzon was arrested with his wife Wilma in Cebu in 2014. At the time, authorities said, the couple held the top positions in the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The NDFP is the CPP’s political arm.
Like most members of the NDFP panel, as well as CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison who is the chief political consultant of the rebel negotiators, Jalandoni and Agcaoili are based in Utrecht, the Netherlands.