Duterte adviser begins talks with Joma Sison

Paterno Esmaquel II
Duterte adviser begins talks with Joma Sison
Duterte peace adviser Jesus Dureza posts initial photos – including a selfie – during his meeting with communist leader Jose Maria Sison in Norway

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The peace adviser of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has begun talks in Norway with communist leader Jose Maria Sison, as the Philippines’ incoming president wants to make peace with communist rebels. 

“And the talks begin,” said Jesus Dureza, Duterte’s incoming adviser on the peace process, in a Facebook post early Wednesday morning, June 15.

Dureza posted a photo of their initial talks showing around a dozen people meeting in a room.

He also uploaded a selfie with Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and Luis Jalandoni, peace panel chair of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, in Norway.

Dureza flew to Norway on Friday, June 10, to meet with Sison on Duterte’s instructions. He went there with incoming labor secretary Silvestro Bello III and former congressman Hernani Braganza. 

“We will look forward to a fruitful meeting under the auspices of the Norwegian government on the sidelines of the ‘Oslo Forum,'” Dureza said in an earlier Facebook post.

Sison, now 77, fled to Europe soon after peace talks failed in 1987 and has stayed abroad since, while one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies continued to claim thousands of lives.

Sison, a political science professor, established the CPP in December 1968 and it launched a guerrilla campaign 3 months later.

The rebellion has left at least 30,000 people dead, by official account.

Sison earlier said he hopes to end his nearly 3-decade exile in The Netherlands “to hold serious talks with President Duterte,” who was his former student. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.