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Joma: Reds to withdraw from staged peace talks

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will withdraw from peace talks with the government if the negotiations are just a “set-up,” its chief political consultant Jose Maria “Joma” Sison said on Saturday.

Chairman Jose Maria “Joma” Sison

Sison, the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), said orchestrated peace talks are aimed at escalation of tyranny and repression and “for Charter change that violates the national patrimony and sovereign rights of the Filipino people.”

“The NDFP negotiating panel can withdraw from the peace negotiations if and when these are being used by the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) merely to compromise and set up the NDFP and the revolutionary movement,” he said in a statement.

The CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), are among the members of the NDFP, an umbrella group.

“Of course, there are big risks taken by the NDFP in agreeing to negotiate peace with the GRP and address the roots of the armed conflict by agreeing on social, economic and political reforms,” Sison said.

He added that the NDFP was aware of the risks if it agreed to a resumption of peace negotiations to end over five decades of the communist insurgency in the country.

Based on his conversations with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd on  December 7 and 8 in Utrecht, The Netherlands, Sison said he saw the desire of the principals of Duterte’s administration and the NDFP to resume the peace talks.

“Informal meetings could resolve issues and serve as preparation for the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations through reaffirming bilateral agreements since The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992,” he added.

Moreover, Sison said communist revolutionary forces had the right to wage “all forms of revolutionary struggle,” while no final peace agreement has been signed.

“While there is still adequate reason for carrying out peace negotiations, both the GRP and the NDFP should strive to use these in undertaking goodwill and confidence-building measures and making comprehensive agreements on social, economic and political reforms
for the benefit of the people,” he added.

In a speech last week, the President said he would send Bello, along with the rest of the government peace panel, to negotiate with Sison in March.

Bello, the former chief negotiator for the government panel in previous peace negotiations with the rebels, said the talks were likely to resume next year.

Sison, who is living in exile in The Netherlands for more than three decades, said he was willing to face Duterte personally only if they meet in a country near the Philippines.

Ties between Duterte and Sison soured last year after the President accused rebel troops of continuing attacks against government forces despite ongoing peace talks.

In March, the President formally terminated the peace negotiations with the rebels, saying he would no longer entertain any “persuasions” from the communists.

Duterte signed Proclamation 360 on Nov. 23, 2017 declaring the termination of the peace talks with NDFP-CPP-NPA.

Another resumption was scheduled in late June last year but it was canceled as the government sought to review all agreements that the communists signed with past administrations.

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