Joma lauds Duterte’s decision to continue talks

NATIONAL Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Chief Political Consultant Prof. Jose Maria Sison lauded Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to continue with the stalled formal peace negotiations.

Still recovering from a recent illness, Sison said he “express(es) deep appreciation to President Rodrigo Duterte for deciding to continue the peace negotiations and enabling the GRP to proceed with the scheduled 4th round of  formal talks in April.”

Sison said it is in the people’s interest for the GRP and the NDFP to pursue the forging of a peace agreement.

In an informal meeting at Utrecht, The Netherlands last Friday and Saturday, the NDFP and the GRP agreed to resume their negotiations on social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, as well as on a prospective bilateral ceasefire.

Sison said “(T)he peace agreement should uphold the sovereignty and independence of the Filipino people, strengthen democracy for the exploited and oppressed people, create the conditions for economic development through land reform, national industrialization and expansion of social services and benefits, promotion of patriotic and scientific culture and peace and development in a multipolar world.”

Sison also announced that he had been hospitalized for some time and is receiving care from a team of medical specialists.

“I am on the way to full recovery.  I am presently helping in the preparations for the 4th round of the formal peace talks and hope to participate actively during the fourth round,” Sison said.

Talks to proceed

Meanwhile, the GRP said it is confident the next round of talks in Oslo, Norway would proceed despite new reports of clashes between the New People’s Army (NPA) on one side and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) on the other.

“We remain firm and confident that we can still proceed according to the agreement we just signed in Utrecht to swiftly reinstate our respective unilateral ceasefires while we work on the terms of an interim bilateral ceasefire agreement,” GRP Negotiating Panel chairperson Silvestre Bello III in a statement said.

The NPA for its part said it is awaiting instructions from the central leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines on the matter of the reinstatement of their unilateral ceasefire declaration.

The NPA also said it welcomes and supports the March 12 GRP and NDFP Joint Statement declaring the continuation of formal talks.

It also called on Duterte to restrain the AFP and “to stop its acts of state terrorism against the people in order to prepare the ground for a meaningful ceasefire in line with the continuation of the peace talks.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)