COMMUNIST Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison said he expects to conclude three agreements—including one paving the way for an immediate ceasefire—during the two-day exploratory talks in Oslo on June 15 and 16 with incoming peace adviser Jesus Dureza and incoming government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III.
“There will be agreements on the release of the political prisoners, an interim ceasefire and a plan to accelerate the peace negotiations,” Sison told The Standard in an interview from Utrecht.
“The interim ceasefire will take effect with the release of all political prisoners through a general amnesty until the successful conclusion of the peace negotiations. The formal peace talks will include a comprehensive and detailed agreement on the permanent end of hostilities,” he added.
Sison will be joined by National Democratic Front chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni and Fidel Agcaoili, while Dureza and Bello will bring with them incoming government peace panel member Hernani Braganza.
“We will discuss confidence-building measures during the exploratory meeting,” Bello said. “The ceasefire proposal from the CPP-NDF is already a major step forward.”
Bello said he will retain current government peace panel member Efren Moncupa for the negotiations with the communists.
Formal peace talks between the Aquino administration and the CPP-NDF-NPA bogged down in February 2011.
Talks could not resume because the communist group has been demanding the reactivation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig), which will give safe conduct passes 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 disk, got corrupted and could no longer be retrieved.
Bello said things will change under a Duterte administration, starting with the reconstitution of the Jasig.
“We will recommend to him [President-elect Rodrigo Duterte] that we honor the Jasig and other previously signed agreements,” Bello said.
Duterte has expressed his desire to end the nearly five-decade-long insurgency through a comprehensive peace agreement with the CPP-NDF-New People’s Army.
Known to be close to the left, Duterte even announced his choice of progressives to join his Cabinet, including Judy Taguiwalo to head the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Rafael Mariano to head the Department of Agrarian Reform.
Earlier, Sison said he will return to the Philippines as soon as a final peace pact is signed even as he acknowledged rumors that he will be assassinated once he arrives in the country.
“Assassination? I will not return to the Philippines without any guarantee on my personal security. And in case I am killed, Duterte will be responsible for that,” he added.