Joma Sison warns Duterte hawks out to spoil talks
LUCENA CITY—Exiled rebel leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison on Friday said President Duterte should put a leash on hawks in his government out to sabotage the peace talks.
If Mr. Duterte “is truly interested in peace negotiations” with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), he “has to reorient his defense, military and police officials and order them to let the peace negotiations to proceed,” said Sison, chief political consultant of the said group and founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), in a statement.
He added, “Certain high military officials have claimed that they are so sure of destroying the armed revolutionary movement of the people and have declared that they do not want any peace negotiations and ceasefire of any kind.”
“Arrogantly, they boast that the NDFP has no choice but surrender in Manila ab initio. They go against the publicly expressed wish of Duterte himself for peace negotiations and a bilateral ceasefire.”
Sison said these military and police officials “must be reminded to stop pipe-dreaming about entrapping the NDFP negotiating [panel] in Metro Manila at the very resumption of formal talks.”
“The NDFP negotiating personnel (negotiators, consultants and technical staff) are highly principled and intelligent people, conscious of the dirty strategy and tactics of the reactionary military and police forces,” he said.
“If Duterte cannot yet stop his own military officers from waging war, it is possible to talk while fighting and this is still better than no talk at all, if I may quote some of the peace advocates.”
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have both declared they will not recommend the traditional Christmas ceasefire with the New People’s Army, the military arm of the CPP.
They argued that any agreement with the insurgents is futile because they continue to attack government forces.
As instructed by Mr. Duterte, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III flew on Dec. 6 to Utrecht, the Netherlands, to speak with Sison who is on self-exile there.
The communist leaders agreed to the resumption of the talks provided that it should be held in a neutral foreign venue, in contrast to the Philippine government’s demand that the talks should be held in the country.
“It is standard practice to hold peace negotiations between two warring parties in a neutral foreign venue to preclude the peace spoilers and saboteurs from having too many opportunities to spoil or sabotage the peace negotiations,” he said.
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