Duterte to Joma: Come home and we'll talk
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he wants to have a private talk with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison in the Philippines, sparking hopes for the resumption of talks to end Asia’s stubborn communist insurgency.
“Gusto ko si Sison pumunta dito. Kaming dalawa mag-usap. Kaming dalawa lang dito sa kuwarto (I want Sison to come home. The two of us should talk privately here in this room),” Duterte told MindaNews in an exclusive sit-down interview in his hometown Davao City.
Duterte hoped but failed to complete a peace agreement with the Reds by the 2nd year of his administration, but in a fit of anger over the death of a 6-month-old baby in an ambush perpetrated by the CPP’s armed group New People’s Army (NPA), he cancelled the talks altogether late last year and declared the CPP and NPA “terrorist organizations.”
The NPA has apologized for the baby’s death. The family car was tailing a convoy of military vehicles that the NPA targetted, the rebel group said.
Duterte also added the NPA as among the threat groups to eliminate when he asked Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao. (READ: The end of the affair? Duterte's romance with the Reds)
Open to resumption of talks
But his interview with MindaNews showed he may still be open to revive the talks. He said chief presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza and chief government negotiator Silvestre Bello III have been seeking a talk with him.
“I don’t know but it would need more than just a show of good faith,” said Duterte. “The problem now is they are not actually addressing the roots [of rebellion]. They are out to take out government and… assassinating (people).”
Even Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has made recent statements that the resumption of talks is always "possible."
"There is always a chance for peace talks for as long as we can, as Secretary Dureza said, have an enabling environment," Lorenzana said in an interview earlier this week.
"If the environment is good and there is trust on both sides. Hindi yung nagtataguan ng mga information o naglolokohan lang (We shouldn't be hiding information from each other). It's still posisble. But as of now, I think naririnig ninyo naman si (you heard the) Presidente He is not very keen on starting the talks now," said Lorenzana.
Reds should 'watch their language'
Duterte said one of his conditions is for the communist rebels “watch their language.” He said they have been “masyadong hambog (too arrogant).”
“Kung magsagot sila, akala mo sino. Wala namang… (They talk like they are so superior. They don’t….),” he said, punctuating his sentence with another curse.
Duterte said he was unhappy with the direction of the talks. He showed respect for the CPP “ideologues” but belittled the capability of the NPA.
He said he is against a coalition government with the Reds. He is willing to appoint the ideologues but won’t let the armed forces absorb its combatants.
Sison was Duterte’s professor at the Lyceum University in Manila. He went into exile in the Netherlands in the '80s following the collapse of talks with the Cory Aquino government. He continued to lead peace negotiations that have always been held in Europe. (READ: Joma slams Malacañang for 'fake news' on Dutch Citizenship) – Rappler.com