The government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) are set to sign an interim peace agreement, which could lead to peace talks between both sides.
This, according to a statement released Saturday by NDFP chief political consultant, Jose Maria Sison.
As initially agreed, President Rodrigo Duterte was set to attend the signing of the interim peace agreement. However, Sison said the government side "backed out and offered" Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to represent Duterte.
The NDFP suggested to hold the signing in Hanoi as alternative venue, considering Duterte's heavy work.
"But Duterte has insisted that the meeting be in the Philippines," Sison said.
He said the reasons why he could not return to the Philippines prematurely include:
- A mutual agreement that peace negotiations be held in a foreign neutral venue.
- Being in the country would put him and the entire peace negotiations "in the pocket of Duterte and his mercy."
- Peace negotiations would be put at risk should any saboteur abduct or harm any NDFP panelist or consultant.
Sison earlier said that he would return to the Philippines but only when certain conditions are met.
Among Sison's conditions – a signed ceasefire deal, amnesty for political prisoners, and a signed Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms. He also wanted an assurance on his safety.