Thanks, but peace talks first, Sison tells Duterte

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for the latter’s offer for him to return to the country, but said such may be premature without substantial advancements to the peace talks.

“I thank President Duterte for his expressed wish for my soonest homecoming and for his assurances of hospitality and guarantees for my safety,” Sison said, adding he has long wished they could meet again and cooperate closely in enabling the peace process to advance from one item to another in the substantive agenda.

“I declare that I will certainly return home when a significant advance in the peace negotiations has been achieved within the framework of The Hague Joint Declaration and when my comrades and lawyers are satisfied with legal and security precautions,” Sison said.

Sison said that that if he return to the Philippines prematurely, he would expose not only himself but also the entire peace process to extremely high risks of violent sabotage and termination by spoilers who are out to terminate the peace process once and for all.

Over the weekend, Duterte again invited his former professor to return to the Philippines and possibly resume the peace negotiations in the country.

“I created a small window, 60 days. My proposal to Sison is that I no longer go to…We are talking about the Philippines here. So you come home,” Duterte said before motorcycle enthusiasts in Albay.

Duterte said Sison will be safe while in the Philippines.

“I will molest no one. I will order the military and the police to be nice to you,” he said.

Sison, however, said the important common task in the next few weeks is for the NDFP and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiating panels is to prepare for the resumption of the peace negotiations by doing the following:

  1. Making a memorandum of agreement to respect existing agreements prior to Proclamation 360 (which terminated the peace process) and to remove the obstacles and hindrances to the participation of a significant number of NDFP negotiators, consultants and experts in the peace negotiations.
  2. Drafting the mutually satisfactory agreements on ceasefire and amnesty of the political prisoners as well as the parts of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development and National Industrialization and Economic Development.
  3. Signing and approving the agreements well within the 60-day frame that President Duterte has set by way of resuming the peace negotiations.

Duterte terminated negotiations November last year and moved to have NDFP allied organizations, the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, proscribed as terrorist organizations.

Last Thursday, Duterte said he ordered the possible resumption of formal negotiations because he does not want GRP soldiers dying and in response to the NDFP’s desire to resume the peace talks.

Sison said he is confident that the GRP and the NDFP negotiating panels, consultants and drafting teams will be able to produce in the next few weeks the documents necessary for resuming the peace negotiations and making the peace process strong and stable.

Meanwhile, the NDFP is set to celebrate its 45th founding anniversary on Tuesday, April 24. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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