Reds tell Duterte: Let’s talk peace
LUCENA CITY—Self-exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison on Tuesday welcomed the offer of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to communist rebels to end the fighting and prepare for a peaceful life under a Duterte presidency.
“If Rody Duterte runs and if he wins as President, then the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army (NPA) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will readily and earnestly negotiate with him,” said Sison, who is based in Utrecht, The Netherlands, in an e-mail statement.
Duterte, who was in Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur, on Monday, asked communist and Muslim rebels to come down from their mountain lairs and meet him for peace negotiations to end decades of fighting.
Duterte vowed to find a solution to the insurgency and the Moro rebellion by inviting their leaders to talks.
Sison said he appreciated and admired Duterte’s interest in seeking peace and cooperation with the revolutionary movement.
He said the NDFP’s negotiating panel “will definitely negotiate with his (Duterte’s) negotiating panel at an accelerated pace.”
The NDFP, an umbrella organization of underground leftist groups, has been engaged in on-and-off negotiations with the government for the past 27 years but peace remains elusive.
Duterte has yet to declare his participation in the May 2016 presidential race.
The peace negotiations have remained stalled since February 2011.
Sison said he recognized Duterte’s aspiration for peace.
“He has gone so far as to express interest in a coalition government and in addressing the roots of the armed conflict and working out the necessary agreements on social, economic and political reforms in order to achieve a just and lasting peace,” said Sison, also chief political consultant of NDFP in peace negotiations with the government.
In an online interview last month, Sison said the responsibility of bringing a peaceful end to the rebellion does not rest solely on rebels.
“The civil war is a two-sided phenomenon. And the peace process to settle it is also two-sided,” he said.
Sison accused the Aquino administration of blocking the resumption of the stalled peace negotiations.
NPA rebels have been waging a Maoist-inspired war against the government for the past 46 years, keeping alive the world’s longest-running communist rebellion.
The armed conflict has claimed more than 40,000 lives, according to government figures.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.