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Philippine communist party founder still open to peace talks with gov''t

Publication Date : 06-05-2014


 Despite the arrest of two top communist leaders, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Ma. Sison on Sunday said he remained willing to meet with President Aquino to help jump-start the stalled peace talks with leftist insurgents.

Speaking through Skype to a forum in this Chinese special administrative region, Sison said the peace panels of the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) could also meet “any time.”

“If President Aquino is willing to meet with me, I’m also willing to meet with him,” Sison told his audience, most of whom were domestic workers who filled the auditorium of the Duke of Windsor Social Service Building in Wan Chai district.

“The meeting, if it will [take place], should be helpful to the resumption of the peace negotiations. But I think the negotiating panels of both sides can very well meet any time,” he added.

In Manila, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said “any serious proposal toward resuming peace talks should be coursed through our third-party facilitator and not through the media.”

Deles was referring to Norway, which is brokering the peace negotiations between the government and the NDFP.

It was the second time that Sison spoke about his willingness to meet with President Aquino to revive peace talks with the communist insurgents following the administration’s successful peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim secessionist insurgent group in Mindanao.
The government and the MILF signed a permanent peace agreement on March 27, ending more than four decades of conflict that had cost more than 150,000 lives.

Tiamzons arrested

Earlier in March, Benito Tiamzon, the alleged CPP chair and head of the New People’s Army (NPA), and his wife, Wilma Austria, alleged CPP secretary general, and five other alleged communist insurgents were arrested by the military in Cebu province. The government has brought illegal weapons and multiple murder charges against them.

In 2012, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas  proposed that Sison and Aquino meet in Vietnam but that did not push through.

“Ka Joma as founding chair of the CPP was willing to go if it would help the peace negotiations,” Luis Jalandoni, NDFP peace panel chair, told the same forum in Hong Kong.

Indefinite ceasefire

Jalandoni said the proposal was for Sison to meet with Aquino in Hanoi, similar to the meeting between the President and MILF chair Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo that led to 17 months of talks and a final peace agreement.

“But the talks regarding this did not prosper because the Aquino representatives wanted to have a unilateral, indefinite and simultaneous ceasefire leading to a permanent ceasefire without any guarantees for reforms like land reform and national industrialization,” Jalandoni said.

He said that the Norwegian government and peace advocates like former Sen. Wigberto “Bobby” Tañada had proposed that “informal talks” resume this month but Malacanang had yet to respond.

Jalandoni said the “informal talks” in Oslo might have to be reset to June.

“It was the proposal of the NDFP side supported by the  Norwegian government and personalities like former Sen. Bobby Tanada to have informal talks in Oslo [last month or this month],” he said.

“The possibility now of informal talks has been pushed to June as a better time.

But so far, the Aquino administration has not responded favorably to this proposal,” he added.

NDFP issues

Jalandoni said among the issues the NDFP  wanted to raise with the Philippine government were the arrests of the Tiamzons, Hacienda Luisita, the rehabilitation of coconut farmers affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) and the new Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (Edca) with the United States.

“The Aquino administration has so far not responded. In fact, it has acted with negative action like the signing of the [Edca] and the arrest of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria,” he said.

“If the Aquino regime continues to remain deaf to the calls for peace negotiations with the NDFP, then the NDFP has no choice but to wait for the next administration,” Jalandoni added.

‘Unsinkable carrier’

Sison denounced the Edca as a “treasonous” deal with the United States that would turn the Philippines into the Americans’ “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in the western Pacific.

“It is a very deceptive kind of agreement. It speaks of rotating troops but these are rotating permanently,” Sison said.

“Practically, the entire country has been turned into an unsinkable aircraft carrier of the US, posing challenges to neighbouring countries,” he added.


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