Joma Sison 'willing' to hold talks with Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison said on Sunday, January 14, that he is willing to hold talks with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Sison was responding to Duterte's remarks in an interview with MindaNews, where the President said he wants the communist leader to come home for a private chat.

"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," Sison said in a statement.

"It would indeed be a waste if we would not interface even once, considering the success of the 4 rounds of formal talks since 2016."

Duterte hoped but failed to complete a peace agreement with the communists in the second year of his administration. The government canceled the peace talks again in November 2017.

The President also signed a proclamation in December 2017 tagging the CPP and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), as terrorist groups. That same month, Duterte also cited alleged atrocities committed by the NPA when he asked Congress to extend martial law in Mindanao. (READ: The end of the affair? Duterte's romance with the Reds)

Sison said he and Duterte can meet in a neighboring country of the Philippines.

"In this regard, the chairmen of the [government and National Democratic Front] negotiating 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," he added.

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 Corazon Aquino government. He continued to lead peace negotiations that have always been held in Europe. (READ: Joma Sison slams Malacañang for 'fake news' on Dutch citizenship– Rappler.com