DAVAO CITY, Philippines — National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison invited President Rodrigo Duterte to a meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam to resume the peace negotiations.
Sison in a statement on Saturday, May 26, bared NDFP’s plan for him to meet with Duterte at the signing of the Interim Peace Agreement that includes a ceasefire agreement and the long-standing demand for an amnesty proclamation for around 500 political prisoners in the country.
This would also include the hammering of the agrarian reform and rural development (ARRD) and National Industrialization and Economic Development (NIED) sections of the CASER, said Sison.
Contrary to Duterte’s demand to meet in the Philippines, the NDFP insisted to hold the talks in a “foreign neutral venue” like Oslo in the Netherlands.
“The original plan mutually agreed upon by the GRP and NDFP representatives in back channel consultations was to have Duterte attend the Oslo ceremony for the signing of the Interim Peace Agreement. But the GRP side backed out and offered Medialdea as the proxy of Duterte,” Sison added.
To ensure Duterte’s attendance, the NDFP offered to hold the meeting in the neighboring country Vietnam, particularly at its capital Hanoi, as an alternative venue.
“But the GRP side did not give a positive answer and the RNG (Royal Norwegian Government) special envoy cannot make any arrangement with Hanoi. Hanoi as a venue near the Philippines was proposed by NDFP in consideration of the heavy work sked [schedule] of Duterte,” Sison said.
Sison reiterated his intention to return to the Philippines once “substantial progress” is reached in the GRP-NDFP peace talks and when legal and security concerns are addressed.
“By substantial progress, I mean the entire CASER (Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms) has been mutually approved by the GRP and NDFP principals,” Sison added.
Sison’s clarification came after Duterte’s threat that he would be killed when they meet and if the peace negotiations fail.
He said there are considerations that impede his return to the country.
“First, I would be going against the established mutual agreement to hold the peace negotiations in a foreign neutral venue in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and JASIG,” he said.
Sison also put on consideration the security of NDFP leaders joining the negotiations if it will be held in the Philippines.
“Second, I would be placing myself and the entire peace negotiations in the pocket of Duterte and at his mercy. Third, any peace spoiler or saboteur would be able to destroy the entire peace negotiations by simply abducting or harming any NDFP panelist or consultant,” added Sison.
Informal talks are ongoing between the two parties since April as confirmed by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), a positive development since the stalled fifth round of the formal talks last May 2017. (davaotoday.com)