Joma, Digong set meeting in Europe
LUCENA CITY—Exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison is looking forward to meet Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte in Europe before he assumes the presidency.
On his Facebook (FB) page on Wednesday, Sison also urged Duterte to order the arrest of President Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad for plunder in connection with the alleged misuse of the congressional Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
He said the President and Secretary Abad were “responsible for looting and unprecedented corruption” in the allocation of the PDAF, or pork barrel, which the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional.
“It is the hope that we can meet before his oath-taking as he promised during my Skype conference with him on April 25. He said he would come soon after [he is elected President],” Sison said in an online interview with the Inquirer on Wednesday on his anticipated meeting with Duterte.
Sison said representatives of the CPP and Duterte were holding preparatory talks for the visit, the date of which he did not disclose.
“I expect to meet President Duterte soon in Europe, whether the meeting is preceded by, concurrent with or followed by preliminary meetings of the GPH (Government of the Philippines) and NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) negotiating panels,” Sison said.
The CPP leader hopes that the meeting would be held before Duterte’s oath-taking on June 30.
Sison sent a video recording of his Skype conversation with Duterte, where the Davao mayor mentioned his plan to visit the CPP leader based in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Duterte, in the video recording, said his meeting with Sison was aimed at preparing the agenda for the resumption of peace talks and threshing out related issues.
Sison, in the Inquirer interview, also welcomed the declaration of Duterte’s spokesperson, Peter Laviña, that the incoming President may release jailed communist rebels.
In an interview with Agence France-Presse on Tuesday, Laviña also disclosed that Duterte would allow Sison and other exiled communist leaders to return to the country for the resumption of the peace talks and to review the status of political prisoners.
“Of course, I am hoping for the release of all political prisoners,” Sison said.
“They have long been unjustly detained on false charges of common crimes by the Arroyo and Aquino regimes,” he added.
Their release, Sison said, “will be conducive to an immediate mutual ceasefire and cooperation and the accelerated negotiation of the comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms.”
He said the release of political prisoners had been done during the administrations of Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos.
Sison said communist rebels were open to the crafting of a new democratic Constitution and to Duterte’s proposal to study federalism as a form of government for the country.
In a previous interview, Sison said “political will,” for the sake of peace, is key to end the more than 40 years of armed conflict between the government and the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the CPP.
Also earlier, Luis Jalandoni, chair of the NDFP peace panel, said the return to the peace table would depend on the release of political prisoners and “peace consultants.”
Among the 528 political prisoners and 17 NDFP consultants are spouses Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, whom the government tagged as top officials of the CPP-NPA. The two were arrested in Cebu province in March 2014. With a report from Nikko Dizon
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