Joma insincere, hampers talks, says DND chief

DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has accused Jose Maria Sison, the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, of being insincere―the reason, he said, why the peace talks had been dragging on for decades.   

He said Sison’s calling of President Rodrigo Duterte as a “political swindler and butcher” does not reflect his sincerity and the New People’s Army to resolve the insurgency problem that is now on its 50th year.

Lorenzana made his statement even as students of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, who graduated on Sunday staged a protest.

The placard-bearing graduates assailed President Rodrigo Duterte for his war on drugs, his failure to end contractualization and his soft stance on the issue of China’s encroachment in the West Philippine Sea.

They urged the government to resume the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Lorenzana made the statement in an exclusive interview with the Philippine News Agency at the sidelines of the FVR Golf Tournament at the Philippine Veterans Medical Center golf course in Quezon City.

He criticized Sison for insisting on holding the peace talks in a foreign country like Norway, instead of the Philippines.

“The reaction of Sison on the peace talks does not help, because what is wrong when the President said we should first study the agreements?” Lorenzana said.

“What the President wants is to hold the peace talks here in the country.”

The on-and-off peace negotiations between the government and the communist rebels have been going on for decades without result.

Lorenzana, a retired major general of the Philippine Army who saw action at the height of the Moro rebellion in Mindanao in the 1970s and 1980s, blasted Sison ”for ordering the NPA to go on an all-out war and oust the President.”

“What I can say, Mr. Sison, just come home and we will talk about what you are fighting for, otherwise if you don’t come back here we will talk to the local NPA leaders and you will be irrelevant and you will be consigned to the dustbin of history,” Lorenzana said.

Lorenzana also reacted to the threat of Sison to order the NPA to attack government forces, and that was because Sison was exiled comfortably in the Netherlands, out of harm’s way, while the NPA rebels were risking their lives fighting.

“It is easy for you [Sison] to say because you are living in a foreign country, enjoying and living a life of luxury and comfort,” Lorenzana said.

He said Sison and the NPA “want to tie the hands of the government,” adding “this does not help” the peace talks to progress.

Lorenzana supported Duterte’s call for the peace talks to be held in the Philippines and not in a foreign country. With Rio N. Araja

Topics: Jose Maria Sison , Secretary Delfin Lorenzana , Communist Party of the Philippines , peace talks
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