Interview: There are no problems if I don’t go to the Philippines–Sison

NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT OF THE PHILIPPINES (NDFP) Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison told Kodao Productions there are difficulties in carrying out his plans for a homecoming in July.

In a Skype meeting with then candidate for the presidency Rodrigo Duterte several weeks ago, the now President-elect expressed his desire to meet his former professor for a one-on-one meeting.  After Duterte’s victory in the May 9 national elections, both he and Sison announced plans for Sison’s homecoming to affect the meeting.

In this interview, Sison explains the current difficulties in affecting his homecoming and their implication in the resumption of formal talks between the incoming Duterte government and the NDFP.

1. Why is your visit to the Philippines next month difficult to realize at this point?

Jose Maria Sison: If I step out of the territory of the European Union, I give up the protection that I enjoy as a recognized political refugee under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and under the Refugee Convention. I also give up the protection that I have gotten by winning my case for the removal of my name from EU list of terrorists and open myself to attack by the US and other countries that designate me as terrorist.

2. What can the incoming Duterte administration do to remedy the situation?

JMS: The most important reason why I wish to go to Manila is to meet President Duterte and discuss with him the subject of a just and lasting peace and how to achieve this through the peace negotiations. But I can wait for President Duterte to make a state visit to Norway, The Netherlands and the Vatican. I can meet him abroad.

Otherwise, as advised by my (European) lawyer Jan Fermon, the NDFP will have to request President Duterte to ask the Dutch government to let me make a short visit to Manila to converse with him on peace matters and give me a return visa so that I participate in the peace negotiations in Oslo and avoid the dangers of a prolonged stay in the Philippines.

3. What are your thoughts if such complications would indeed prevent you from visiting the Philippines?

JMS: There are no problems to solve if I do not go to the Philippines in the meantime. The wisest and most prudent thing for me is to avoid unnecessary dangers and risks and to focus on the formal talks which shall begin in Oslo next month.

4. How will this affect the peace process?

JMS: It is favorable to the peace process that I do not take the risks of going to the Philippines. If am stranded in the Philippines, I will not be able to participate in the peace negotiations in Oslo and the NDFP will not agree to engage in peace negotiations in violation of existing agreements on a neutral venue abroad and come under the pressure of military and police surveillance. The Duterte government and the peace negotiations would be upset if the peace spoilers attack my person.

5. Have you heard from President-elect Duterte about this?

JMS: As far as I know, no one from the NDFP has yet explained to President Duterte the dangers and risks that the peace negotiations and I would face if I were to go to Manila for a prolonged stay of more than two weeks. Thus, there is yet no basis for me to expect any response from him.

6. What should the organizations and people who support your visit do to help remedy the situation?

JMS: My visit to the Philippines is not an important issue. President Duterte and other high officials desire my visit to the Philippines. The mass organizations and people should pay far more attention to the release of the current political detainees by general amnesty and the substantive issues in the peace negotiations.

7. What can you say about reports that some (rightist, anti-Left, even US) elements may try to discredit/sabotage the peace process and the cooperative relationships between the Left and the incoming GPH administration?

JMS: There are peace spoilers like the rightists, anti-Left and the US that you refer to. At this stage, we should not give any of them the chance to spoil the peace negotiations by making myself too available for physical attack. Such attack would disturb the peace process and the developing cooperation between the Left and the Duterte government. Let us give President Duterte the time and opportunity to handle the worst of the peace spoilers and trouble makers. # (Interview and photo by Raymund B. Villanueva)