MANILA— An “exasperated” Jose Maria Sison on Thursday denounced what he called the government’s “unilateral” decision to postpone the resumption of formal peace negotiations between the government and the communist movement initially set later this month.
The exiled communist leader, who is eyeing a possible homecoming later this year, said the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) was not informed before peace adviser Jesus Dureza announced the postponement.
“I am not only disappointed but exasperated,” the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines said, adding the government “turned against written agreements” signed during backchannel talks in the Netherlands from June 5 to 10.
In a separate statement, Sison urged the negotiating panels to release the agreements it signed earlier this month.
"I urge the two negotiating panels to release to the public and to the press the written and signed agreements of June 9 and 10 signed by the chairmen of the GRP (government) and NDFP negotiating panel and by the members of their respective special teams," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday government needed more time before resuming formal negotiations, which were supposed to take place on June 28.
Duterte arrived at the decision following a command conference on Wednesday in Malacañang where he was briefed on developments in the backchannel talks.
Dureza later announced in a palace press conference that government negotiators had been told to first consult the “bigger peace table” involving the public. The peace adviser also cited the lack of an “enabling environment” to resume formal talks.
“That is a lot of bullsh*t,” Sison said when told about the reasons cited by the government.
“Duterte and Dureza want nothing but the immediate capitulation of the revolutionary movement under the guise of an indefinite ceasefire and killing the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations,” he told ABS-CBN News from Utrecht where he has been on self-exile.
“If that is what they like, the revolutionary forces and people have no choice but to single-mindedly wage a people’s war for national and social liberation, especially at this time that the broad united front of patriotic and progressive forces are already isolating and weakening the Duterte regime.”
NDFP peace panel chief Fidel Agcaoili said a team of government negotiators was set to fly to Utrecht over the weekend to explain the “adjustments” in the negotiations’ schedule.
“Of course we consider this a setback from the schedule that we have already agreed upon,” he told ABS-CBN News.
“But we are ready to receive their team this weekend.”
Agcaoili said the NDFP panel had been told that Duterte wanted to first “study” documents related to the resumption of the peace talks.
Both sides were supposed to sign an interim peace agreement if formal negotiations resumed later this month.
The deal was predicated on agreements on agrarian reform and national industrialization, an amnesty proclamation, and a coordinated unilateral ceasefire.
A stand-down agreement was to be simultaneously declared on June 21, which was a week later than what had been previously agreed upon.