Joma pushes for resumption of peace talks during ceasefire
LUCENA CITY –– Top rebel leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison said Wednesday that the government and communist insurgents should explore all options towards the possible resumptions of the aborted peace talks, while both rest their guns in their common war to fight COVID-19.
In an online interview, Sison urged the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) representatives to discuss and try to agree on the following pressing issues during the truce period: free the political prisoners and save them from being afflicted en masse by COVID-19; cancel the arrest warrants against social, environmental and human rights activists; and prepare for the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations.
Due to the limitations imposed by the viral disease on traveling abroad and personal interactions, Sison said both parties can conduct the discussion through “video conference.”
Sison, NDFP chief political consultant, also appealed to President Duterte to monitor the progress of the planned online discussion for quick resolution of the issues.
He advised the president to listen closely to the dialogue between the panelists of the GRP and NDFP.
Sison revealed that the government and NDFP panels had been conducting backchannel talks last November and December for the resumption of the peace negotiation.
Sison said New People’s (NPA) rebels would allow government health workers to conduct activities inside the guerrilla territories and influenced-areas to stop the spread of the virus.
“If they are civilian health workers, even from the Department of Health, the NPA will allow them in,” Sison said.
However, he claimed that the revolutionary movement has its doctors and health workers attending to the safety and protection of the residents inside their guerrilla base and surrounding areas against the viral disease.
“Even before Duterte imposed quarantine, the NPA, mass organizations, and organs of political power have been conducting an information campaign to safeguard the community against COVID-19,” Sison said.
He said their health workers know how to conduct tests and consequently treat patients with COVID-19.
Late Tuesday, the CPP declared that its armed wing, the NPA rebels, would observe a unilateral ceasefire from March 26 to April 15 to allow the government to focus on its battle against the viral disease outbreak in the country.
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