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Reds scoff at safe-passage offer, bat for talks in ‘neutral country’

Self-exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison on Wednesday urged the government to hold negotiations in a neutral country instead of the Philippines to prove that the offer to revive peace talks is not a trap.

READ: Duterte: Reopen talks with Red

In a statement Wednesday, Sison said the National Democratic Front could not trust the “no arrest” declaration of Malacañang.

“The NDFP cannot submit itself to any situation and process in which it comes under the duress, control, and surveillance by the armed minions of Duterte,” Sison said.

The communist leader also noted that the standing agreement between the government and the NDFP is to hold negotiations in a foreign neutral venue as stated in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.

“The Duterte regime has to prove that it is not merely trying to put the NDFP in a trap in which his armed minions can murder consultants like the late Randy Felix Malayao and arrest them on trumped-up charges and with planted firearms like Vicente Ladlad, Rey Casambre, Reynante Gamara, Adel Silva, Alex Birondo, his wife Nona and others in violation of JASIG,” Sison said.

He also maintained that the Duterte administration cannot gain the trust and confidence of the NDFP while it refuses to carry out “goodwill measures.”

These measures include the release of sickly and elderly political prisoners on humanitarian grounds and ceasefires during the Christmas season up to the first week of 2020.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the government’s chief peace negotiator, told the Manila Standard that he met with Sison in The Netherlands from Dec. 7 to 8 in a bid to revive peace negotiations which were terminated by President Rodrigo Duterte in November 2017.

Bello was joined by Hernani Braganza, who served as government negotiator for backchannel talks with the NDF while formal talks remained stalled, while Sison was accompanied by NDF chairman Luis Jalandoni and NDF chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili.

The agreements forged during their meeting have yet to be publicized.

Sison said the negotiating panels headed by Bello and Agcaoili are “conscientious and competent” and if there were no “disruptions and terminations” from Duterte, they can do their work “effectively and at the proper pace.”

“It is important to recognize the dangers and pitfalls and to take precautions. It is necessary to fulfill certain political, legal and security requirements,” Sison said.    

Topics: Jose Maria Sison , peace talks , National Democratic Front , Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees
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