No arrest for communist leaders in peace talks
While President Rodrigo Duterte is undecided if he will declare a ceasefire or not, exiled rebel leader Jose Ma. Sison and other communist leaders will not be arrested should they return to the Philippines to resume the peace negotiations with the government, according to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
“Certainly, there will be no arrest,”Panelo said at a press briefing.
Panelo said he would have to consult the President, though, regarding the recommendation of Interior Secretary Eduardo AÃ±o and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana against the declaration of a ceasefire, arguing that any agreement with the insurgents is futile because they continue to attack government forces.
Last week, Mr. Duterte said he ordered Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to fly to the Netherlands to try convincing Sison to give the peace negotiations another try.
The President said it was his “last card” in attempting to broker peace and end the decadeslong communist insurgency.
But Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa on Tuesday scoffed at the proposed revival of peace talks with communist insurgents, saying the latter have not been sincere in previous discussions and were only using these to seek fighting space for their armed components.
Dela Rosa, a former Philippine National Police chief, said the communists had never given an indication that they wanted the peace negotiations to succeed.
“Those peace talks are a farce. Are they sincere? No. If they were sincere, the war would have long been over. How many peace talks have we held?” Dela Rosa told reporters.He said Sison was only offering to resume the discussions since the New People”™s Army (NPA) were in trouble.
“They are using the peace talks so that their armed wing could have a bigger fighting space on the ground, since the government is gaining a ground on them. They want to be able to enter places they could not enter before so that they could recruit, rearm, consolidate, mobilize and gather supplies,” he said. Sison said there could be a formal meeting with the government but he disagreed with the precondition that the discussions be held in Manila.
Sison declared that if the government would not announce a Christmas truce, it could jeopardize the possible resumption of the peace negotiations and prevent the Maoist-inspired guerillas to declare its own traditional holiday ceasefire.
In an online interview on Tuesday, Sison said the NPA rebels “can see through the ruse and will not lay itself open to attacks by declaring a ceasefire that is not reciprocated by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP.” INQ
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