Malacañang on Saturday hit back at Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison following his statement that he would fight the “puppet” government of President Rodrigo Duterte when he returns to the country from exile in the Netherlands.
In a statement, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said Sison’s remarks “only highlight his apparent disconnect” with communist fighters on the ground “who seem to have deteriorated from ideologues to plain criminals and extortionists.”
“It is unfortunate he needs to be coaxed to return to his homeland, while his wounded comrades in the mountains in the Philippines are left dying only for our soldiers to rescue and accord medical care,” Abella said.
“Mr. Sison apparently took to the soft life in Europe leaving his comrades to fend for themselves. No wonder they are only too eager now to demand their unearned portions,” he added.
On Thursday, the President called Sison a coward for living comfortably in Utrecht, the Netherlands, while communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels fought government troops in the Philippines.
Duterte dared Sison to return to the country and lead the communist insurgents.
On Friday, Sison said he would return to the Philippines on his own terms and not on the dictates of Duterte.
“If deemed necessary by the revolutionary movement, I will return to the Philippines to fight the Duterte puppet regime of US imperialism,” Sison said in an online interview.
“I choose the battlefield where I fight and the types of battles that I wage. These cannot be dictated [upon]by Duterte, who hopes vainly that the US and European intelligence would tip him off as soon as I leave the Netherlands for the Philippines,” he added.
Sison and his wife Juliet went into exile and settled in The Netherlands after the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution that ousted strongman President Ferdinand Marcos.
Immediately after his election last year, Duterte invited Sison to return to the Philippines and talk peace with the government.
A fifth round of talks, initially scheduled in August, was cancelled after the NPA ambushed members of the Presidential Security Group in North Cotabato, wounding four of Duterte’s security aides.
Duterte in his second State of the Nation Address last week declared there would be no more peace talks with the communist rebels. He said communist rebels would be the government troops’ next targets as soon as the armed conflict with Islamic State-linked terrorists in Marawi City ends.