Sison says meeting Duterte likely but unsure if it’s in PH

By: Delfin T. Mallari Jr. – @inquirerdotnet
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:32 PM December 12, 2019

LUCENA CITY—Top communist rebel leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison could meet face-to-face with his former student, President Rodrigo Duterte, but was unsure if it would take place in the Philippines.

Sison said the planned meeting between him and the President, as reported by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, is not a remote possibility but may not happen in the Philippines.

“Maybe in a nearby country,” Sison said in an online interview from his base in Utrecht on Thursday (Dec. 12).

Sison said even if the personal meeting with Duterte takes place outside the Philippines, “I have to have political and legal guarantees that I retain the protection of the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

“I cannot just jump to the Philippines without political, legal and security precautions in the process itself and outside of it,” Sison said.

Sison said there were many things to work on to resume peace negotiations before the planned meeting between him and Duterte.

“The government should focus on the substantive agenda on social, economic and political reforms and not on how they can entrap the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) and peace negotiations in the Philippines,” he said.

According to Bello, former chief government peace negotiator, Sison had agreed to have a face-to-face meeting with Duterte.

Bello flew to Utrecht on Dec. 6 on orders of Duterte to speak with Sison and other leaders of NDFP over the resumption of the talks.

Sison and wife, Juliet, went into exile and settled in The Netherlands after peace talks with the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino collapsed shortly following the People Power Revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

The collapse of talks between Ms Aquino and communist rebels was followed by a series of coups against the late icon of democracy involving Right-wing politicians and renegade military officers.

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