Baka mapatay rin! Mayor Halili’s killing spooks Joma from coming home

Baka mapatay rin! Mayor Halili’s killing spooks Joma from coming home
By Xave Gregorio
Jul 6, 2018

Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Ma. Sison is still not comfortable to come home to the country, especially after the assassination of Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili.

Sison said while he wants to return to the Philippines as soon as possible, the still-unsigned Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (Caser) and President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to kill him prevents him from doing so.

“How would I be comfortable? Duterte has threatened me with death,” said Sison via Skype, currently the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant, during a media forum with the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) on Thursday (July 5).

The Communist leader, who has been in self-exile in the Netherlands for decades, said there were more threats from Duterte about killing him than invitations for him to come home.

“How comfortable can I go to the Philippines? There are so many assassinations even of government officials. And the President is gleeful by a mayor of Tanauan is murdered by only expert riflemen from the police and the army,” he said.

Duterte, just hours after Halili’s fatal shooting on Monday (July 2), claimed that the mayor was linked to drugs, contrary to the Malacañang’s earlier statement hailing him as an ally in the government’s war against drugs.

This has been refuted by Halili’s family, who, according to his longtime friend Senator Panfilo Lacson, suspects that the government is behind his killing.

Aside from this, Sison said the Communist rebels and the government not reaching an agreement on the Caser, which primarily aims for national industrialization and agrarian reform, keeps him from coming home.

He said he could have come home as early as August or September, if only the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the government peace panels in Oslo, Norway pushed through as planned last month and the Caser adopted by both parties.

However, Duterte has delayed anew the resumption of the talks last month, saying he is “not ready for that.”

The President terminated peace talks with Communists in November 2017 by signing of Proclamation No. 360, which noted that the rebels have “failed to show sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peace negotiations.”

In April, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza set four conditions for the peace talks to continue, namely, to declare a ceasefire, stop collecting revolutionary taxes, not to claim any territory and to release all its prisoners.

However, NDFP peace panel chair Fidel Agcaoili said during the Focap forum that these preconditions are “sealing the coffin on the peace negotiations.”

Agcaoili later added that the Philippine government only needs to fulfill its obligations under existing agreements––the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL)––for the peace talks to push through.

Duterte had terminated the Jasig, designed to ensure the safety and immunity of those participating in the peace talks, in February 2017.

On the other hand, the CARHRIHL requires the release of some 400 Communist rebels, but those who have been temporarily freed to participate in the talks have been ordered arrested again after the termination of the negotiations.

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