MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's threat to kill communist leader Jose Maria Sison if he returns to the Philippines and talks failed does not improve negotiations, a consultant for the Left said Friday.
However, the chief executive "has said worse things before and has also taken back these things," said National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Rey Casambre.
"I think that kind of statement doesn’t add confidence or goodwill to the talks, the atmosphere. But we know the President, how he speaks...We just take it at that. I myself, I would not take it very seriously and I hope his soldiers don’t," he told ANC's News Now.
Duterte, Sison's one-time student, said he has invited the 79-year-old leader to come home and that the communist group's founder "has agreed."
"I gave him a window of two months, very small. Make or break tayo dito… I will see to it and will personally maybe escort him to the airport if nothing happens in two months. I will allow him to go out. I will not arrest him because that’s word of honor,” he said.
Casambre said he does not know if there were formal invitations sent to Sison, but "it's out of the question" because the Communist Party of the Philippines and the government have previously agreed to hold all negotiations in a "neutral venue abroad."
He said he was not sure if Sison has responded to the most recent invitation, but the CPP founding chairman "has always been participating in the talks."
In an interview with ABS-CBN News' Christian Esguerra, Sison said coming home to the Philippines would mean giving up the "advantages of negotiating in a foreign neutral venue," which is Norway.
Asked if his homecoming could come within the year, he said: "Yes... I’ve always been optimistic."
Casambre said Sison has agreed to Duterte's invitation last month, but not before consulting his lawyers and advisers regarding his safety "especially after Proclamation 374 where President Duterte declared the CPP and the NPA as terrorist organizations."
"This is still subject to judicial processes, but nonetheless, the threat is still there," he said.