Joma: I will return if peace negotiations progress
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief consultant Jose Maria Sison reiterated his intention to return to the Philippines from self-exile only if there are significant developments in the peace negotiations with the government.
“I have consistently declared that I will return home when substantial progress is already achieved in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and my comrades and lawyers are satisfied with the legal and security guarantees,” Sison said in a statement on Saturday.
“For my soonest possible interface with Duterte, the NDFP has considered my meeting at the signing of the Interim Peace Agreement, packaging the ceasefire agreement, amnesty proclamation and the ARRD and NIED sections of CASER either in Oslo or Hanoi,” Sison added.
The communist leader said that they listed Hanoi as a possible meeting venue as it is closer to the Philippines, to consider President Rodrigo Duterte’s tight schedule. However, the President maintained that the meeting between them be held in the Philippines.
Sison’s comments came after President Duterte threatened to “kill” Sison if the peace talks fail. Sison, who was President Duterte’s professor at Lyceum of the Philippines University, was invited to return home several times but begged off due to security concerns.
“There are certain important considerations against my prematurely returning to the Philippines. First, I would be going against the established mutual agreement to hold the peace negotiations in a foreign neutral venue,” Sison said.
Sison added that the peace talks would be placed in a precarious situation if it would be held in the Philippines.
“Second, I would be placing myself and the entire peace negotiations in the pocket of Duterte and at his mercy. Third, any peace spoiler or saboteur would be able to destroy the entire peace negotiations by simply abducting or harming any NDFP panelist or consultant,” he said.
“The original plan mutually agreed upon by the GRP and NDFP representatives in back-channel consultations was to have Duterte attend the Oslo ceremony for the signing of the Interim Peace Agreement. But the GRP side backed out and offered [Executive Secretary Salvador] Medialdea as the proxy of Duterte,” he added. /jpv
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