DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /15 January) — Prof. Jose Ma. SIson, chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF) and founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has accepted the offer of President Rodrigo Duterte for a one-on-one talk with him.
In a press statement dated January 14, Sison welcomed “the positive statement of President Duterte that he would like to converse with me one on one. Such statement is more important than his still angry words in his recent interview with MindaNews.”
“Gusto ko si Sison pumunta dito. Kaming dalawa mag-usap, kaming dalawa lang dito sa kwarto” (I want Sison to come here. The two of us will talk. Only the two of us here in this room), Duterte, who called off the peace talks with the NDF in November and in December declared the CPP and New People’s Army (NPA) as “terrorists” told MindaNews on January 12.
The CPP and NPA are represented in the peace talks by the NDF.
“In the interest of the Filipino people and for the sake and purpose of resuming the peace negotiations, I am willing to have serious conversations with President Duterte. It would indeed be a waste if we would not interface even once, considering the success of the four rounds of formal talks since 2016,” Sison said in a three-paragraph statement.
But Sison proposed that they meet in a neighboring country instead of Duterte’s offer to meet at the Agila Room of the Presidential Guest House in Davao City, Duterte’s home city and “comfort zone.”
“Considering our mutual convenience and sense of prudence, we can meet in a country that is a neighbor of the Philippines,” Sison said, adding the chairs of the government and NDF peace panels “can agree on the arrangements.”
“After the resumption of the peace negotiations, I can go to the Philippines for my first visit after a long time,” added Sison who was Duterte’s professor in Political Thought at the Lyceum University in the 1960s.
Sison and his wife were forced to go on exile in The Netherlands in 1986 after then President Corazon Aquino canceled his passport while he was on a lecture tour in Europe.
Asked about Duterte’s response to Sison’s offer, Dureza told MindaNews on Monday: “Let’s wait.”
“Will talk to the boss (President Duterte) about it,” government peace panel chair Silvestre Bello III, also the Labor Secretary, told MindaNews.
In response to Sison’s offer, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told MindaNews Monday noon: “As I said in presser, he’s (Sison’s) not too important.”
Reminded that it was Duterte who offered the one-on-one with Sison, Roque said, “in the context na kailangan muna magpakumbaba ang CPP-NPA.”
A transcript of the Malacanang press briefing on Monday morning which MindaNews received in the afternoon, quoted Roque as telling the Malacanang Press Corps that what the President said was “magpakumbaba muna ang NPA” (the NPA should show humility).
“And the possibility of a one-on-one meeting was proposed by the journalist and the President said, ‘One-on-one, puwede siguro.’ But that is not a precondition for the resumption of peace talks,” Roque said.
The proposal for a one-on-one meeting with Sison came from Duterte, not from MindaNews.
In the earlier part of the interview, Duterte said what will make him return to the negotiating table is “for them (CPP-NPA-NDF) to go lower” because they are “masyadong hambug” (so arrogant).
Asked what he meant by going “lower,” Duterte said the CPP-NPA-NDF should watch their language.
But in the latter part of the interview, when MindaNews noted that he did not disband his peace panel, Duterte said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and government peace panel chair Bello “came to me several times (but) I said I’m not in the mood for love and talks.”
“Unless,” Mindanews asked. His response: “Bumaba muna sila (Let them come down). Gusto ko si Sison pumunta dito. Kaming dalawa mag-usap, kaming dalawa lang dito sa kwarto.”
The President’s proposal is contained in these excerpts from the transcript of MindaNews’ interview:
Q. Are the doors (to peace talks) totally shut?
A. I, I don’t know but it would need more than just a show of good faith and
Q. But branding them as
A. Tingnan mo, nagkausap kami ni Sison. Sabi ko ‘stop f__king with my soldiers and policeman (during the ceasefire). Pinapatay ninyo eh. Sabi niya ‘we do not have control sa forces namin, little kasi limitado ang communication.’ That is all bullshit. When the time came for a termination, suddenly all those, the activity is activated, everywhere anywhere and they start waging a war against the government.”
Q. So what will make you return to the negotiating table?
A. For them to lower, go lower. Masyadong hambug.
Q. What do you mean by ‘go lower’?
A. Kung magsagot sila, akala mo sino wala namang, put__na.. alam mo yang the higher echelon now itong politburo nila and mga central committee … pag nawala na iyan, wala na, inutil na yang NPA na yan, puro lumad na na ginamit lang nila. Wala man silang ideologue. Si Reyes maski anong yawyaw niya akala mo alam niya lahat.
Q. Is branding them terrorist organization and terrorists going to solve the problem
A. No, but I can lessen their number because I
Q. You’re talking body count here.
A. Yes. Correct. Exactly correct, They know that a police vehicle is for everybody especially in the provinces. During emergencies, sasakyan iyan dalhin sa hospital ang poor policeman naman hindi iyan maka hindi pag mag report iyan then it goes to big splash police refusing to transport a wounded or sick person patay sila, so they have to take this gamble tapos may bata doon sinakay six months old.
Q. But you have not disbanded your peace panel
A. Ako sabi ko (inaudible). Dureza and Bello came to me several times, I said I’m not in the mood for love and talks, as the saying, as the song goes
A. Bumaba muna sila. Gusto ko si Sison pumunta dito. Kaming dalawa mag-usap, kaming dalawa lang dito sa kwarto. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)