Joma Sison: Issues still hound peace talks
By: Delfin T. Mallari Jr. – @inquirerdotnet
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:38 AM December 13, 2019
LUCENA CITY—Top rebel leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison on Thursday said he agreed with Labor Secretary and government peace negotiator Silvestre Bello III that there was a 90-percent chance that aborted peace talks between the government and communist rebels would resume, but that the remaining 10 percent of unresolved issues could still make or break the prospect.
“The 10 percent is quantitatively small but is of the type that can make or break the peace negotiations,” said Sison, also the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Among the contentious issues are the venue of the peace talks and the freedom for elderly and sickly political prisoners, as well as the safety and immunity guarantees for the NDFP consultants in the peace negotiations.
Bello was scheduled to report to President Duterte on the talks on Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Ready for surprisesAmid the optimistic development, Sison said the NDFP “must be ready for surprises because of its previous experiences” with Mr. Duterte.
“We hope that this time around, he becomes more conscious of the previous lost time and the small amount of time remaining before his term ends. Every moment must be seized to advance the peace negotiations,” Sison said.
According to human rights group Karapatan, as of November 2019, there are 629 political prisoners languishing in jails in different parts of the country. Of this figure, 50 are elderly and 113 are sickly.