Sison to Duterte: We will cooperate but…
Joma Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), on Tuesday said his group will cooperate with the government if President Rodrigo Duterte will uphold his promise to release all political prisoners within 48 hours of the signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement.
“If he will really amnesty and release all political prisoners 48 hours after the signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement by the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) panels, then the NDFP negotiating panel will work hard and fast and cooperate with the GRP negotiating panel to forge such an agreement within December,” Sison told INQUIRER.net.
“During the third round of formal talks in Rome in third week of January, President Duterte and I as CPP founding chairman and as authorized representative of the CC (Central Committee) of the CPP shall approve the (ceasefire) document,” he said.
Duterte on Monday told media that he will not release the 130 political prisoners.
“I’m sorry but I have already conceded so much on the side of the government, he said.
However, government negotiator Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Duterte told him that they may still push through with the release once the bilateral ceasefire agreement is signed.
Release all or fighting resumes
However, Sison said the number of political prisoners to be released should not change or else they will cancel the ceasefire agreement.
“The GRP must keep its word of amnestying and releasing all the 434 political prisoners. Otherwise the CPP, NPA and NDFP would terminate any ceasefire agreement even if already signed at the level of the panels and shift to the mode of negotiating while fighting,” he said.
Human rights groups claim that there are more than 400 political prisoners languishing in Philippine jails but the latest reports said the government is only willing to release 130 individuals.
Nevertheless, Sison said, “I agree with President Duterte that it is definitely better that we cease the fighting and concentrate on making the comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms.”
Meeting the Pope
“The GRP and NDFP delegations can jointly and separately have an audience with the Pope,” Sison said, referring to their meeting in Rome.
The two parties will be transferring peace talks to Rome, from Oslo, Norway, because of the warmer climate.
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