Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sison vows to return if ceasefire is declared

From the Manila Standard Today (Jan 1): Sison vows to return if ceasefire is declared

SELF-EXILED Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison said he is ready to return to the Philippines once an indefinite ceasefire is signed between the government and the National Democratic Front.

“As soon as there is a truce and cooperation agreement between government and NDF, or best of all, when there is already a final and complete peace agreement, then I am coming home,” Sison said.

The 75-year-old founding leader of the world’s longest-running insurgency said the first thing he would do when he returns is to express thanks to those who have supported the peace negotiations through a series of meetings.

Only after that will he rest with his immediate family members, he said.

Peace talks however, will have to be held in Oslo, Norway, Sison said.

“The negotiations on the remaining items of the substantive agenda will still be done in a neutral venue abroad,” he added.

Sison recalled that as early as February 2011, the NDF has already informed the Aquino administration that a truce and cooperation agreement could be immediately concluded “on the basis of a general declaration of common intent to achieve national unity, peace and development” while the negotiating panels work on the other remaining items in the peace talks agenda.

Sison has been living in the Netherlands for 27 years now since he left the country on a self-imposed exile in 1987.

Last week, Sison disclosed that formal talks between the government and the NDF will resume in January, a move that would end close to three years of impasse in the negotiations.

Both the government and the NDF have maintained that there should be no preconditions to the resumption of the talks even as the communist group urged the Aquino administration to consider releasing 14 of its consultants, including detained CPP chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma.

On Wednesday, the Palace condemned the “pointless violence” of members of the communist New People’s Army over the holiday season that left two soldiers and one militiaman dead.

“In blatant disregard of the Christmas season, when our people desire and expect peace and goodwill, the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-NPA has reciprocated the government’s gesture of a month-long unilateral ceasefire with acts of senseless violence,” presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles said.

The government earlier declared a month-long unilateral ceasefire from Dec. 19 to Jan. 19.

The CPP-NDF-NPA reciprocated with a staggered truce covering Dec. 24 to 26; Dec. 31 to Jan. 1, 2015; and Jan. 15 to Jan. 19, 2015.

Deles noted that on Dec. 22, NPA rebels torched heavy equipment used for the construction of a bridge in Paracale, Camarines Norte.

The rebels also set fire to a vehicle owned by a civilian in Agusan del Sur.
“Both acts were committed in retaliation for the civilians’ refusal to give in to their extortion,” Deles said.

On Dec. 23, NPA members abducted Compostela Valley jail warden Jose Mervin Gementiza Coquilla in Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

On Dec. 29, Deles said the NPA shot dead at point blank soldiers Ronald Bautista and Albert Amor and militiaman Renel Baluca, who were unarmed and in civilian clothes, and on their way to spend the holidays with their families.

“We strongly condemn the pointless violence exercised by the CPP-NPA-NDF. If they are truly serious in their call for the resumption of peace negotiations with government, we challenge them to walk their talk and stop harassing development projects, civilians and unarmed soldiers on holiday,” Deles said.

“There is no way to peace but through peace,” she added.

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