By John Ezekiel J. Hirro

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiating panel chairman Fidel Agcaoili died on July 23 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. He was 75.

Agcaoili’s death was announced by the NDFP in a statement, saying that pulmonary arterial rupture leading to massive internal bleeding — not Covid-19 — was the cause.

“The [NDFP] announces with deep sorrow the untimely passing of Ka Fidel V. Agcaoili [on] 23 July 2020 at 12:45 pm in Utrecht, The Netherlands. He would have turned 76 on 8 August,” the NDFP said.

His remains will be flown to the Philippines in accordance with the wishes of his family.

‘Outstanding communist fighter’

Agcaoili was a co-founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

CPP founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, with whom Agcaoili was in self-exile in The Netherlands, honored “Ka Fidel” in a statement, saying he “deserves to be honored as a great Filipino patriot and outstanding communist fighter.”

“All the efforts and sacrifices that he has made in his lifetime will live after him in the hearts and minds and collective will and actions of the people in the people’s democratic revolution and in the subsequent socialist revolution,” Sison added.

The CPP hailed Agcaoili for “serving the revolutionary movement and all the oppressed and exploited classes… to achieve national and social liberation.”

“He was one of the most beloved and respected leaders of the Party, the NDFP, and the Filipino people…. At all times, Ka Fidel firmly upheld the principles of the Party. He was imbued with the communist spirit to his last breath,” it said.

‘Love for peace, structural change’

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the former government chief negotiator, also mourned Agcaoili’s passing.

“We join all peace-loving Filipinos in grieving the passing of a revolutionary whose passion for peace is as ardent as his love for structural change on the land of his birth,” he said in a statement.

“Ka Fidel V. Agcaoili, my counterpart in the peace table in our efforts to try to end the decades-long armed conflict with the CPP-NPA-NDF, was a man of honor and conviction. He was an instrument in making the mostly arduous tasks of talking peace smoother and a bit easier,” he added.

Agcaoili led communist rebels in numerous peace talks with President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. 

Talks eventually fell apart and Duterte declared communist rebels as “terrorists” in December 2017.

Bello had tried to revive peace talks with Agcaoili and the CPP in December last year, but were halted by Duterte’s security advisers.

Preview image: Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process