MANILA - Top communist leader Jose Maria Sison said Saturday he was leaving the resumption of peace talks up to President Rodrigo Duterte.
This, after the President softened his stance against communist rebels on Friday and even credited them for helping him win the presidency following previous harsh rhetoric against the left.
"It is up to him to end his position of having terminated the peace negotiations with Proclamation 360," Sison said in a statement.
"The standing policy of the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) is to negotiate with the GRP (Philippine government) anytime he (Duterte) is ready to resume the peace negotiations in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and further agreements," he added.
Talks between the government and communist rebels broke down in July last year as the administration cited continued attacks of the rebels' armed wing, the New People's Army, against state troops despite ongoing negotiations.
The Duterte administration also suspended supposed backchannel talks this year citing the need for further consultation.
In his latest statement, Sison, who earlier had bitter exchanges with the President, also criticized his former student's offer of housing and work to rebels who would surrender.
"Duterte is either trying to sound less hostile to the revolutionary movement or he is still hostile by trying to bribe the NPA fighters to surrender," he said.
The communist leader, however, agreed with the President that the NPA would continue to exist even when they had both gone.
"He is correct though in saying that the NPA will continue to exist even after he and I are gone from the surface of the earth, if by implication he means positively that the root causes of the armed conflict must be addressed and solved by social, economic and political reforms," Sison said.
Duterte and Sison have repeatedly traded barbs and allegations of failing health after ties between them soured over the cancellation of peace negotiations.