COMMUNIST Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison has offered an immediate mutual ceasefire with the incoming administration of Rodrigo Duterte as the leftists prepare to nominate members to join the new Cabinet.
Sison said Fidel Agcaoili, chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front, was already in Davao to iron out details with the Duterte camp.
“The CPP and NDF welcome the offer of the Cabinet posts from president-elect Duterte and thank him for showing trust and confidence. They will recommend the department secretaries who are motivated to serve the people, competent, honest and diligent. They are going to form a committee to scout and choose the nominees,” Sison told The Standard in an interview from Utrecht.
He said he himself does not want any government position.
Duterte earlier offered four Cabinet positions to the CPP, namely the departments of Agrarian Reform, Environment and Natural Resources, Labor and Employment, and Social Welfare and Development.
Sison said the original plan was for Duterte, his former student at the Lyceum University, to go to Europe before his inauguration on June 30, after which the self-exiled communist leader would return to the Philippines.
“But I don’t think Duterte has time to make that trip because he has so much work to do before his inauguration. Agcaoili is in Davao now to talk to Duterte,” he said.
“Emissaries are now laying the ground for the resumption of the peace negotiations. The negotiating panels will meet to discuss the release of political prisoners, the implementation of an immediate mutual ceasefire, and the plan to accelerate the peace negotiations,” Sison added.
Sison said once the mutual ceasefire is in effect, he will return to the Philippines.
Formal peace talks between the Aquino administration and the CPP-NDF collapsed in February 2011.
Talks could not resume because the communists have been demanding the reactivation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees which will give safe conduct pass to communist negotiators and political consultants.
The government earlier rejected the NDF’s proposal to draft a new Jasig list after the original one, stored in a very old floppy diskette, got corrupted and could no longer be retrieved.
A spokesman for the Duterte camp, Peter Laviña, took a more conciliatory tone toward the communists Tuesday after calling them “roadblocks to genuine change” on Sunday.
“We did not fire the opening shots. We were merely reacting,” Laviña said, saying his Facebook post Sunday was to “put things in perspective” after the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) criticized Duterte’s economic plan as “a continuation of the neo-liberal poison imposed on the people by the Aquino regime.”
“I am truly sorry for these leftist groups which will be left out in the march of history with their dogma and belligerent styles and methods of work. They need to right their wrongs and stop becoming roadblocks to genuine change,” Laviña had said in his Facebook page.
But in an interview with Davao-based reporters, Laviña insisted that the Left “will have to mend their ways.”
“We cannot just hold a demonstration on every issue, nothing will happen, we need to join hands to address the problems in the country,” he added.
Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes was also more conciliatory on Tuesday, acknowledging the offer of four Cabinet posts for the Left as “unprecedented and...very much welcome.”
Sison had earlier told The Standard that the “revolutionary forces” would consider Duterte’s offer and make recommendations that may include qualified persons who are not CPP members.
“The appointment of peace negotiators who are acceptable to the NDF also boosts chances of progress in the peace talks. A just and lasting peace entails serious economic and political reforms that address the roots of the armed conflict,” Reyes said.
“We offer our willingness to discuss these programs with the incoming Duterte government. We are glad that the next president has also publicly declared that he was a part of Bayan,” he added.
In a statement the CCP central command said Duterte’s rise to the presidency was a reflection of the “deepening and aggravating crisis of the semi-colonial and semi-feudal system.” It added that they welcomed Duterte’s openness to “attain a negotiated political settlement of the long-running civil war.”
The Palace on Tuesday said the offer of four major Cabinet posts to the communists was the prerogative of the next president.
“Every president exercises the prerogative to appoint Cabinet members who are deemed capable and trustworthy,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang.
“In exercising this power, the President must submit the appointees to the scrutiny of Congress through its Commission on Appointments, as provided by the Constitution,” said Coloma.
“While reviewing such appointments, Congress may engage stakeholders in dialogues that would surface concerns or objections, such as those that have been aired in regard to the incoming president’s plan to appoint nominees from the Communist Party of the Philippines,” he said.
“Let this process unfold and bring about results that will truly serve the national interest,” said Coloma.
The human rights group Karapatan, meanwhile, urged Duterte to reconsider his decision to name Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, protege of retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, as the next military chief.
“Instead of being promoted, Visaya should be prosecuted for the crimes he committed against the Filipino people,” Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay, said in a statement.
Visaya, currently chief of the Southern Luzon Command, was a protégé of Palparan, whom human rights groups had dubbed “The Butcher” for a string of human rights abuses that occurred in areas where he was assigned as military commanader.
The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) acknowledged Duterte’s offer of four Cabinet posts and urged the incoming president to certify as urgent a genuine agrarian reform bill. -With Sandy Araneta and John Paolo Bencito
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