Difficulty in facilitating Sison’s return seen

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 8 June) – There might be some difficulties in facilitating the return of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Maria Sison in the country to talk peace with the incoming Duterte administration after the United States government placed the CPP-New Peoples’ Army in the terrorist list.

In a press conference during the “When Blue Meets Red: A Conversation on GPH-NDFP Peace Process” at the Ateneo de Davao University on Wednesday, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiating panel spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili said that Sison’s return to the country remains to be “a very ticklish issue” and needs an assurance from the Dutch, Norwegian, and even US government they will not interfere in a way that will result to the derailment of the peace negotiations.

“There should be a guarantee from the Dutch government, Norwegian government, and the US government to respect the sovereignty of the Filipino people in their desire to pursue a just and lasting peace by allowing Sison to come home without interference,” he said.

Agcaoili said that including the CPP-NPA in the terrorist watch list of the US government poses a “real problem” because Sison could be arrested at a foreign airport where he would take the flight to the Philippines, which might “adversely affect the peace negotiations” between the two parties.

“Maapektuhan kung tayo nag-uusap para sa kalayaan bigla mong kukunin ang aking kaibigan, bakit hindi maapektuhan ang ating pakikipag-usap? Pwede ba yun? Papayagan kita na kunin mo yung kaibigan ko habang nag-uusap tayo? Hindi naman pwede yan,” Agcaoili said.

There’s no direct flight from Holland in The Netherlands to the Philippines, Agcaoili noted, adding that Sison will have to fly to the country via an international airport in Taipei.

“The travel from Holland to Manila, no direct flight. And Professor Sison will have to pass by Taipei. Kung mag-spoiler ang US, through its Interpol, they might present a warrant against sa kanya sa Taipei,” he said.

Incoming Presidential Adviser on Peace Process chair Jesus Dureza told reporters Wednesday that he has no knowledge about the US government’s inclusion of the CPP-NPA in its terrorist watchlist but he vowed to deal with it when both parties return on the peace table.

“I will not speculate. Unya na if naa na sa among table. (We will take it up later when we return to the peace table.) We will deal with it. It has not come to my personal knowledge officially or unofficially. I was not able to listen to Fidel,” he said.

Agcaoili said he had three meetings with President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte where they discussed, among others, the possibility of Duterte sending his emissary to meet with Sison, release of political prisoners through general amnesty, and discussion about the NDFP’s recommendations to his cabinet.

“The first one was about the possibility of him and Sison meeting abroad because he said that he will see the Pope and on his way back, he would like to pass by The Netherlands to meet Professor Sison. But he said that would not be possible because he is not yet proclaimed,” he said.

Agcaoili claimed the current Aquino administration failed to attain peace with the CPP-NPA-NDFP and continue to launch attacks against them through the Oplan Bayanihan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“Hindi ba pwedeng sabihin kay Aquino na hintuin nya muna ang Oplan Bayanihan. I-withdraw nya muna ang mga troops kaso this current administration tuloy tuloy eh, so tuluy tuloy lang din ang laban,” he said.

In a press briefer, the NDFP said: “The CPP, and its armed wing NPA, and the NDFP have waged an armed struggle against the GPH for the 47 years. The armed struggle intensified during the harsh years of martial law (1972 to 1986), a period that saw the expansion of the CPP-NPA-NDF Forces from Luzon to the entire country.”

“In December 2010, undet the PNoy administration, new initiatives for the peace talks resulted in an agreement to resume negotiations in February 2011. Several meetings were conducted; however, the negotiations came to halt when the NDFP demanded the release of its consultants who were allegedly illegally arrested by the government, in violation of their agreement about immunity guarantees,” it said.