Duterte-Joma word war heats up
The word war between Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison and President Rodrigo Duterte is turning ugly.
On Wednesday, after Mr. Duterte told Sison to kill himself, Sison advised the President to see a psychiatrist.
“I am amused when Mr. Duterte advises me to commit suicide. I will never give him such an advice. But what I suggest to him is to consult a professional psychiatrist to take care of his mental health,” Sison said in a statement sent to the Inquirer on Wednesday.
“I pity [Duterte] and I am tempted to just let him go because what he says against me is patently baseless and obviously comes from a sick mind,” Sison said.
“But I have to answer him to prevent him from misleading the public and rousing them the wrong way,” he added.
“First, [Duterte] threatened to kill me. Now, he tells me to commit suicide. Is this another symptom of a malady in which the sick person enjoys boasting of having death squads that commit extrajudicial killings with impunity and with monetary rewards per victim?” Sison said.
“Is Duterte the kind of President and Commander in Chief the [government] can rely on for the factual basis of martial law, which puts at risk the liberties, lives and limbs of millions of people?” he asked.
On Tuesday, Mr. Duterte told the 78-year-old Sison, his former professor at Lyceum of the Philippines, to kill himself as a favor to the Norwegian government, which the President claimed was paying for Sison’s medical expenses.
Mr. Duterte said Sison’s medical expenses had become a political issue in Norway.
“That’s why you’re being asked to leave Norway. You know, in Norway, the party who controls the government now will lose. The issue is because of the expense of letting you live there. And you’re not even paying for your hospital bills. Have pity on the Norwegian government. Just kill yourself,” Mr. Duterte said in Malacañang during the ceremonial turnover of financial assistance to the families of soldiers and police killed in the battle against Islamic State-inspired terrorists who seized Marawi City.
Sison lives in exile in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Norway is brokering peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political arm of the local communist movement.
After starting on a high note, the peace talks stalled, after Mr. Duterte ordered his negotiators to withdraw because of continued attacks by the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the CPP, on government forces.
Sison denied that the Norwegian government was shouldering his medical expenses.
“He (Duterte) seems to be under the impression that I stay most of the time in Norway and get my medical treatment there. No, I stay most of the time in The Netherlands,” Sison said.
He said a Dutch charitable foundation had been paying for his medical treatment “to the extent of more than 98 percent in the last 10 years or so.”
He said the foundation, which he did not identify, stepped in because he was deprived of medical insurance due to lack of residency.
Sison said he remained a “political refugee,” a status recognized by the highest Dutch administrative court.
He admitted, however, that there were “few minor instances” that the Norwegian government helped him get diagnostic attention and medicines from a clinic and its pharmacy in Norway.
Sison said the Norwegian government shared payment for his hospitalization, diagnostic attention and treatment at Pope Pius XI Medical Center in Rome during the third round of formal talks after he caught bronchitis.
Sison, in a statement on Monday, denied Mr. Duterte’s claim that he had colon cancer.
But he admitted that early this year he was confined for a month in the rheumatology department of Utrecht University Medical Center in The Netherlands.
He said he was released on March 20 with a clean bill of health.
Sison said Mr. Duterte’s statements against him lacked factual basis and challenged the President to disclose his true health condition.
Malacañang on Wednesday said there was no need to release Mr. Duterte’s medical records.
“As far as I can see, there’s really no need to do that,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.
“We can see that he is pretty much in control of his physic. . . physiology. He seems to be in the best of health,” he added. —With reports from Philip C. Tubeza and Leila B. Salaverria
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