DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 31 May) – Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison welcomes the assurance of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to ensure his safety when he comes home after three decades of seeking asylum as a political refugee in the Netherlands.
Sison, Duterte’s former professor in Political Thought in college, said in a statement on Thursday that he would return to the Philippines after the signing of the Interim Peace Agreement, which is set for June, and the subsequent mutual approval of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), the “heart and soul” of the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (GRP-NDFP) peace talks, in July or August.
He said it is better to have an assurance of safety from the President so that they could hold a dialogue and agree on how they could serve the interest of the Filipinos, especially the “toiling masses of workers and peasants through the peace negotiations and cooperation under the principles of national sovereignty, democracy and social justice.”
During the Presidential Security Group (PSG) Change of Command Ceremony at the PSG Grandstand in Malacañang Park on Wednesday, Duterte gave his former professor “his word of honor” that he should not worry about his safety and that he would not have him killed when he comes home.
“I may call on, maybe, members of his command to protect him. I have provided a small window of 60 days. And if you come home, do not worry about being killed. I will not do that,” he said.
He explained that he understands the communist leader’s ambivalence and that he knows how he feels as they both lost men to armed encounters.
The fifth round of GRP-NDFP peace talks was aborted for the second time just two days before it would resume on November 25 to 27 last year, when the President issued Proclamation 360, accusing the NDFP of “lack of sincerity,” following a New People’s Army (NPA) ambush on November 9 that killed four-month-old Walysha Manchorao and similar incidents.
The President subsequently signed Proclamation 374, designating the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing as terrorist organizations.
The President said Sison is free to leave the country “unhampered, unfettered, unbridled” if the talks would turn out unsuccessful.
“But this time, sabi ko nga, sabihin ko sa kanya, ‘please, if it is unsuccessful, please go home.’ Ihatid ko siya sa airport. Walang Aquino style na patayan, na barilin ko sa likod (I bring him to the airport myself. No Aquino-style murder, shot from behind),” he said.
Duterte reiterated that he will not agree on a coalition government with the communists.
“Come home and talk, and as long as you do not ask a coalition government, which I cannot give and will never give, you can come home and talk to me and the others, and maybe in the fullness of God’s time we can achieve peace in our land,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)