January 14, 2018, 10:46 PM
MANILA, Philippines — Exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to a one-on-one talk but said this should be “in a country that is a neighbor of the Philippines.”
“I welcome the positive statement of President Duterte that he would like to converse with me one on one,” Sison said, reacting to the suggestion Duterte made during a sit-down interview with Davao City-based independent media outfit MindaNews.
In the interview conducted at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City, Duterte suggested that he might be amenable to resuming peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines if the communists stopped issuing “arrogant” statements.
He also said: “Gusto ko si Sison pumunta dito. Kaming dalawa mag-usap, kaming dalawa lang dito sa kwarto (I want Sison to come here. The two of us will talk. Only the two of us here in this room).”
Despite Duterte’s bellicose tone, Sison said the suggestion to a one-on-one meeting “is more important than his still angry words.”
The CPP founder, who is chief political consultant of the NDFP, which represents the rebels in peace talks, was once Duterte’s college professor.
“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. “It would indeed be a waste if we would not interface even once, considering the success of the four rounds of formal talks since 2016.”
“Considering our mutual convenience and sense of prudence, we can meet in a country that is a neighbor of the Philippines,” he said, adding that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, chairman of the government peace panel, and his NDFP counterpart, Fidel Agcaoili, “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,” Sison, who has been living in exile in The Netherlands since the late 1980s, said.