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Duterte, Esperon preconditions may prevent talks resumption, Sison warns

The resumption of formal peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) may not happen if the Manila government insists it must be held in the Philippines, Jose Maria Sison warned.

Reacting to national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon’s declaration Friday, December 6, that Duterte wants the talks to be held in the country, Sison said the GRP is setting a precondition that is “unacceptable.”

“This precondition is totally unacceptable to the NDFP because it aims to put the NDFP and the entire peace negotiations in the pocket of the Duterte regime and under the control and surveillance of the bloodthirsty military and police who engage in mass murders and other heinous crimes with impunity,” Sison said in a statement Saturday.

Esperon told reporters at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City that the change in venue is a “minimum requirement.”

“Remember that even before the peace talks ceased, the President already said he wanted the venue of the peace talks to be here. So that is the minimum requirement,” Esperon said.

“There will be a declaration of a bilateral ceasefire that’s got rules, too. The NPA can’t be burning up construction equipment. They can’t be going about,” he added.

Sison slammed Esperon’s statements, however, saying the retired general is being “extremely arrogant and insulting” to the NDFP by declaring that it has no choice but to accept the resumption of peace negotiations in the Philippines.

Sison said Esperon issues such statements because he believes his own lie that the government has defeated the armed revolution led by the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

Such declarations are fake news about fake community support projects, fake surrenders and fake encounters, Sison said.

“Esperon should not try to gain from cheap ephemeral psywar and spoil or sabotage the possibility of resuming the peace negotiations in a foreign neutral venue before the mutual approval of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms,” Sison explained.

“The aforementioned issuances of Duterte prevent peace negotiations anywhere in the universe if these are not overcome and repealed in conjunction with the reaffirmation of all agreements mutually approved by the GRP and NDFP since The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992,” he added.

Talks about the possible resumption of the stalled peace negotiations began when Duterte told reporters in Legazpi City last Thursday, December 5, that he is sending former GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III to The Netherlands to talk to Sison.

Bello himself later said that backchannel talks have been ongoing since the GRP walked away from the negotiating table in 2017. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)