Communist leader Jose Maria Sison should not insist that the one-on-one talk with President Rodrigo Duterte be held outside the Philippines, the Palace said Friday.
“He doesn’t have the right to demand [that] from us. They were the ones [being] given [a] favor,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
In a statement, Sison said negotiating panels should meet in a neutral venue abroad as he would put himself at risk and “available for any kind of attack” by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police if he decides to return to the country.
“I would be putting the prospect of peace negotiations at risk if I make myself available for any kind of attack by officers of the AFP and PNP who think that they can end the revolutionary movement by getting rid of me and who are increasingly disobedient to President Duterte and continue to make offensive movements despite the current ceasefire ordered by the CPP to the NPA,” he said.
Sison, however, expressed his willingness to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte in a country near the Philippines after the formal resumption of the peace talks and the approval of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms.
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He also said the Norwegian government, as third party facilitator, should help in securing the necessary political, legal and security guarantees.
But Panelo said Sison’s refusal of a one-on-one meeting with the President betrays his insincerity.
The Palace official also said the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines is living in an “illusory world” he created for himself.
“His decade-long comfortable and luxurious self-exile in Europe has placed blinders in his eyes hence he could not see the transformation of society initiated and propelled by the strong-willed leadership of the former Mayor of Davao City,” Panelo said.
“Sison must disengage himself from his fantasy before his illusions develop into something medically perilous,” Panelo added.
On Friday, Sison said there was no more problem with a Christmas ceasefire with government forces since the rebels’ declaration was reciprocated.
His claim on his Facebook page came after communist rebels launched a series of attacks on government troops, despite the truce.
On Thursday, the Philippine National Police said it was ready to repel any attempt by the New People’s Army to sow violence during the holidays.
PNP Director for Operations, Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Licup, said he told policemen to not let the communist insurgents attack them without fighting back.
He also advised the PNP’s 200 Highway Patrol Groups to never back down in case of attacks from the Reds.
Licup said despite the declaration of a ceasefire, policemen should continue to protect themselves against NPA atrocities.
Meanwhile, about 8,000 anti-communist protesters gathered in different areas in Luzon to denounce the atrocities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front as the CPP marked its 51st year on Dec. 26.
The protesters converged in five areas in Metro Manila and two others in Laguna and Angeles, City Pampanga, calling on the government to start the extradition treaty between The Netherlands and Philippines, in a bid to send exiled CPP founder Sison back home.
Also on Friday, the military said 306 NPA fighters and members of leftist groups surrendered in Masbate Province on Thursday.
Maj. Ricky Aguilar, the 9th Infantry Division officer, said the mass surrenderers are composed of 47 regular NPA members, 150 Milisyang Bayan members, 51 Sangay ng Partido sa Lokalidad officers and members, and 58 supporters.
Aguilar added the group also surrendered 49 various firearms and three improvised explosive devices.
In a statement on Thursday, Aguilar said Lt. Col. Napoleon Pabon, commanding officer of 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB), said the government will take care of the former rebels after they have laid down their arms and returned to the fold of the law.
“We need to ensure that all benefits and necessary remunerations, especially housing and kabuhayan [livelihood] packages, be provided them by concerned agencies in constant collaboration with the local government of the province,” Pabon said. With PNA