MANILA - (UPDATE) A consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines has canceled his trip to the country this month due to possible threat of arrest by government forces.
Luis Jalandoni told ABS-CBN News he will not push through with the trip, citing a threat made by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año.
But Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who also serves as the president's chief legal counsel, said Jalandoni "would not be arrested if he would be coming here for talks."
"First, we talk formally. If we agree on the resumption of peace talks, then we will agree on the date and time of peace talks. Hence, there can be no warrant of arrest affected during the talks," he told ANC's Dateline Philippines.
"If there is a resumption of any informal talks or formal peace talks, Sec. Año would not be affecting any arrest," he said.
Peace talks between the government and the NDFP broke down last year due to alleged continuing rebel attacks on state troops.
President Duterte himself had threatened to arrest the communists' consultants after the talks broke down. He even moved to declare the NDF's armed wing and political arm as terrorist organizations.
Duterte earlier ordered Panelo and Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza to meet with Jalandoni and chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili during the latter's visit in Manila.