Duterte wants to have private talk with CPP founder Sison
MANILA, Philippines — He may have scrapped the negotiations with communists and branded them terrorists but President Rodrigo Duterte remains open to talking with Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison.
“I want Sison to come here. The two of us will talk. Only the two of us in this room,” the President told MindaNews in Filipino in an interview in Davao City last Friday.
Sison, who has been on self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987, has been urging Duterte to resume the peace talks, which were terminated last November after a series of rebel attacks against government forces. But Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque had said the resumption of talks is not likely because of the treacherous acts of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the communists.
Pressed whether the doors of the peace talks are totally shut, Duterte replied: “I don’t know but it would need more than just a show of good faith.”
“When the time came for a termination (of the negotiations), suddenly all those, the activity is activated, everywhere anywhere and they start waging a war against the government,” the President added.
Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza was tight-lipped when asked whether he was optimistic about the prospects of the talks with the communists.
“Let’s just wait what develops from here on. We know the President’s dream is to have sustainable peace but what has happened has provided new challenges that need new paths and ways to peace,” Dureza said in a text message.
Duterte has blamed the communists for the collapse of the talks, saying they are pushing for a coalition government, a setup that he said is not allowed by the constitution because it would involve the “sharing” of the country’s sovereignty.
The President has also classified CPP and NPA as “terrorists,” a move that would enable the Justice department to ask a court to make an official declaration pursuant to the Human Security Act of 2007.
Despite the scrapping of the talks, Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the communists on certain days over the holiday season.
The CPP and NPA also declared their own ceasefire on similar days in recognition of the importance of the Christmas season to Filipinos and to mark the party’s founding anniversary on DEcember 26.
But the military claimed that the communists violated their self-declared ceasefire by attacking soldiers in Mindanao.
Duterte says he has talked to Sison
Duterte revealed he had spoken with Sison about the killing of government troopers during the ceasefire. The CPP founder reportedly claimed that they had no control of forces because of “limited communication.”
Duterte said he would return to the negotiating table if the communist rebels, whom he described as arrogant, “go lower,” MindaNews reported.
“The way they answer, they are very arrogant…son of a b****. They have no ideologues,” the President said.
Duterte said he had told Dureza and government peace panel chair Silvestre Bello III that he was “not in the mood for love and talks.”
“Bumaba muna sila” (They should come down first),” Duterte added.
Terrorist tag will ‘lessen’ communist numbers
Duterte admitted in the interview that branding the CPP and NPA as terrorists would not solve the decades-old communist rebellion, the longest-running Maoist insurgency in Asia.
“No, but it can lessen their number,” the President said.
Duterte said the NPA ambush in Bukidnon last November, which left a six-month old girl dead, prompted him to cancel the talks.
“The problem now is they are not actually addressing the roots. They are out to take out government and … assassinating,” the President said.
When he assumed office in 2016, Duterte vowed to forge a political settlement with communists, even appointing people associated with the left to government posts as a goodwill measure.
Among the left-leaning personalities who were given posts were former agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano, former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, National Anti-Poverty Commission lead convenor Liza Maza, Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod and Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor Chairman Terry Ridon.
Mariano and Taguiwalo’s appointment were rejected by the Commission on Appointments while Ridon was fired over alleged junkets.