Joma to Duterte: Thanks for invite, but…

Joma to Duterte: Thanks for invite, but…
By: Delfin T. Mallari Jr. – @inquirerdotnet
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:10 AM April 24, 2018

LUCENA CITY — Exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Maria “Joma” Sison on Monday thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for inviting him to return to the country for the resumption of the peace talks but politely declined the offer, saying it could possibly put his life at risk.

Sison said he was grateful for the President’s “assurances of hospitality and guarantees for my safety.”

“I have long wished that we could meet again and cooperate closely in enabling the peace process to advance from one item to another in the substantive agenda,” Sison said in a statement addressed to the President, his former student at Lyceum of the Philippines.

Significant advance

The chief consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said he would return to the Philippines only when the peace talks have advanced significantly.

“If I return to the Philippines prematurely, I expose not only myself but also the entire peace process to extremely high risks of violent sabotage and termination by spoilers who are out to terminate the peace process once and for all,” Sison said.

The President on Saturday urged Sison to come home for the resumption of the peace talks that the President terminated in November last year.

But in February, the President set a 60-day timeframe for the negotiators of both parties to work on the resumption of talks.

Early this month, Sison said the government and NDFP would conduct back-channel talks to prepare for the resumption of the formal peace talks. The NDFP is the umbrella group of all communist-led underground organizations.

‘Respect agreements’

The two panels, which met for five days in Utrecht, have decided not to issue their respective statements yet on the result of the initial talks, according to Luis Jalandoni, NDFP senior adviser.

Sison said both parties should focus on the crafting of an accord to “respect existing agreements prior to Proclamation 360 and to remove the obstacles and hindrances to the participation of a significant number of NDFP negotiators, consultants and experts in the peace negotiations.”

The President issued Proclamation 360 that officially terminated the peace process last year.

Sison said both parties should also draft mutually satisfactory agreements on ceasefire and amnesty for political prisoners. —With a report from Karlos Manlupig

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