MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday alleged that communist leader Jose Maria Sison has dementia which led to the failure of peace talks, an issue that the latter blamed on the Chief Executive.
"I cannot fathom the brain of Sison. However you pick it, wala na eH, dementia or something," Duterte said in an anti-communism event in Tacloban City, Leyte.
"He keeps on transferring from one topic to another, that finally, I thought that peace, through negotiations sa kanilang liderato, hindi puwede. Nag-give up na ako. I tried everything."
(Peace talks with their leaders is not feasible. I gave up.)
"Bata-bata ako ni Sison noon. When we were young... alam mo 'yong ideyalismo, I used to participate in protest-protest until my father, nagalit. So, I had to stop," said Duterte, who had said he is a former student of the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
(I was an underling of Sison. When we were young, you know idealism, I used to join protests until my father got angry. So, I had to stop.)
"Fifty-three years after, wala akong nakitang na-achieve ng terorista. Wala akong nakitang progress. Rather, it has become a group of bandits solely," he added.
(Fifty-three years after, I haven't seen any achievement of the terrorists. I haven't seen progress.)
Sison said Duterte, who is turning 76 later this month, "is trying to draw attention away from his own illogical, delusional and incoherent public statements."
The 82-year-old self-exiled communist leader said his statements "are fact-based, logical, coherent and always in the interest of the Filipino people."
"It is Duterte who terminated the peace negotiations, without presenting any complaint to the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) under the provisions of the [Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law]," said Sison.
He accused Duterte of following former US President Donald Trump's order to terminate the peace negotiations "in exchange for military assistance."
Since coming to power in 2016, Duterte has seen his efforts to forge peace with communist rebels derailed repeatedly, prompting frequent outbursts and threats to wipe them out.
Earlier this month, he told security forces to kill communist rebels and "ignore human rights." Days after his remark, police raids left 9 activists dead, prompting concern from the United Nations rights council and the European Union.
— With a report from Reuters