Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison said on Saturday there is no need for him to return to the country before the successful conclusion of the ongoing peace talks unless he is conferred the state honor of National Artist for Literature.
The 78-year-old Sison, according to the National Democratic Front, is already on his way to full recovery after he was hospitalized in January, making him miss the third round of peace talks in Rome.
“Sison, in fact, already at the stage of gaining strength after three weeks of thoroughgoing diagnostics and medical treatment and one more week of recuperation in the hospital,” the NDF said after Duterte said he was concerned by Sison’s health.
“Unlike in the third round held in Rome last January, where Sison skipped the closing ceremonies, he was at every major event of the fourth round this April, including a reception at the residence of the Norwegian ambassador to The Netherlands,” it added.
Sison himself said he would only consider returning to the Philippines “when there is a highly significant development in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, such as the amnesty and release of all political prisoners listed by the NDFP and the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms by the government and NDF negotiating panels in Oslo.”
But Sison said he was not ruling out a homecoming which “could be the result of his nomination as National Artist for Literature [Poetry and Essay].”
Sison said he welcomes the honor of being nominated and considered as National Artist, the highest state honor conferred on individuals for their artistic accomplishments.
Although Sison said he could not presume that he would win the award, some creative writers, performing artists and mass leaders are planning to nominate him for the award for being an “outstanding poet and essayist, with more than 25 books to his credit.”
The award is given only every three years and are due within 2017. National Artists are proclaimed by the President, after they are chosen from a short list of nominees provided by the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the National Cultural Commission on the Arts.
A National Artist is entitled to lifetime emolument and material and physical benefits comparable in value to those received by the highest officials of the land, including a cash award of P100,000 net of taxes for living awardees, monthly life pension, medical and hospitalization benefits, state funeral and burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and a place of honor at national state functions.
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