Joma urges next GRP administration to remove barriers to peace talks resumption

NDFP chief political consultant reacts to presidentiables’ stand on negotiations

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said the future Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) administration must get rid of the barriers put up by Rodrigo Duterte to give peace negotiations resumption a chance.

Sison said GRP-NDFP peace negotiations could be resumed upon the nullification of the Anti-Terror Act, the dissolution of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and the explicit withdrawal of the designation of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and the NDFP as “terrorist” organizations.

In an interview with the NDFP International Information Office, Sison said Duterte has put up the three barriers to render impossible the resumption of negotiations with the Revolutionary Left, and even thereafter.

“Duterte was never really interested in serious peace negotiations with the NDFP but obsessed with accumulating power and bureaucratic loot and easily decided to terminate the peace negotiations and scrap all agreements made with previous regimes of the GRP,” Sison explained.

Sison said Duterte only pretended to be in a hurry to complete the peace negotiations from 2016 to 2017, which the NDFP accommodated by accelerating the negotiations and drafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms.

“[T]here were even meetings to draft in advance the Comprehensive Agreement on Political and Constitutional Reforms and the Comprehensive Agreement for the End Hostilities and Disposition of Forces,” he said.

But since Duterte’s cancelation of the negotiations in mid-2017, he has chosen the so-called localized peace negotiations as a mode of intelligence gathering, psywar and combat operations, seeking to split the revolutionary movement and entrapping individuals, families, groups and communities suspected of being connected to the revolutionary movement, Sison said.

Response to presidentiables’ stand on peace talks

Sison said he wishes that the major presidential candidates other than former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. were clearer about wanting to resume the peace negotiations if they were elected president.

“[N]o one among the rivals of Bongbong has dared to reaffirm The Hague Joint Declaration and all the further agreements done within its framework,” he said.

Sison said that Leni Robredo has muddled her own wish to resume the peace negotiations if she became president by accepting the NTF-ELCAC and its “whole nation” approach.

“There is no clarity and certainty that she is not for the fake localized peace talks and that she is really for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations within the framework of The Hague Joint Declaration,” he said.

Sison said that Manny Pacquiao sounds sincere about wishing to resume the peace negotiations and goes so far as to declare that had he not become a successful boxer he would have joined the NPA.

“In general terms, Isko Moreno has also declared the wish to resume the peace negotiations,” Sison said of the Manila mayor who once served as NDFP’s resource person during formal negotiations in Oslo, Norway and Rome, Italy in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Sison observed that Leody de Guzman has also declared the same general wish in order to address the roots of the armed conflict.

Aside from Marcos, Sison was most critical of Senator Panfilo Lacson who he said is most clear about being for “fake local peace negotiations.”

Local peace talks, Sison said, will only target individuals, families group and communities suspected of being associated with the NPA.

The scheme shall be similar to NDFP’s experience from 1986 to 1987 with the Corazon Aquino administration when military entrapment, control and close surveillance and individual and groups shall be subject to becoming surrenderers and battle casualties, Sison explained.

“His (Lacson) idea of localized peace negotiations is similar to that of Duterte,” Sison said.

The former Philippine National Police chief was also the primary author of the Anti-Terror Law that Sison said is objectionable to the Left.

Since 2018, Lacson had been consistent in calling for Sison’s exclusion from the GRP’s negotiations with the Left.

To continue performing role

But Sison said it is not for the GRP or anyone on its side who decides on who works for a just peace on the NDFP side.

 “It is quite absurd that the GRP and its military officials often prate that I am already disconnected from the Philippines, especially from the revolutionary forces, and yet they also abuse my name by putting it in their ‘terrorist list’ or in every charge sheet against the NPA,” he said.

Sison said he will remain as NDFP’s chief political consultant if formal negotiations resume with the next GRP administration.

“[S]o long as the NDFP asks me to perform a role that I can do competently,” he said. (Raymund B. Villanueva)