MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte claimed on Monday, July 24, that communist leader Joma Sison is suffering from colon cancer.
Duterte made the claim in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), as he reiterated his decision to "stop talking" with communist rebels.
"Sison is sick, may (he has) colon cancer,"Duterte said about his former teacher and founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) who has been on political asylum in The Netherlands since 1992.
In recent speeches, the President has claimed Sison was "dying." He mentioned this on Friday, July 21, apparently to convince the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the CPP, to surrender to government since there is no future in their fight.
Sison, talking to the Inquirer, denied Duterte's claim that he has colon cancer.
In his SONA, Duterte also criticized how National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants were merely using the peace talks with the government to travel around Europe as if they were tourists.
"Kasi bumalik-balik 'yung mga buwang, 'kala mo mga turista, wala naman pinag-usapan. 'Pag dating dito, gusto ng ganito, ng ganyan (They keep coming back, these fools, you'd think they were tourists, but they don't agree on anything. When they get back here, they demand this and that)," said Duterte.
Days before his second SONA, Duterte said he would no longer pursue peace negotiations with the Left, following NPA clashes with government troops, including members of his Presidential Security Group.
This is in stark contrast to his first SONA in which he announced a unilateral ceasefire as a gesture of goodwill for the talks. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.