Palace says Sison 'entitled to his own opinion'
MANILA - Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison on Friday alleged that President Rodrigo Duterte "sabotaged" peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels.
In a statement, Sison revealed that the GRP (government) peace panel and that the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) were having "discreet talks" and were set to finalize common drafts in the fifth round of formal talks.
"Unfortunately, Duterte, the principal of the GRP Negotiating Panel, started on Nov. 18 to rant every day against the CPP, NPA [New People's Army] and the NDFP in connection with recent incidents in the armed conflict," he said.
"He also ranted against the entire peace process until Nov. 23 when he made his Proclamation No. 360 terminating the peace negotiations. He violated the mutual agreement that talks would be discreet until there would be good news to announce at the end of the fifth or sixth round of formal talks."
Duterte on Thursday afternoon signed Proclamation No. 360, formally ending peace negotiations with the communist rebels.
In a statement Friday, the NDFP however said the peace talks will be deemed terminated 30 days after the receipt of the written notice of termination, according to the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
It added that it has yet to receive the written notice.
"In the past year, the GRP President has suspended or terminated the talks three times while these were ongoing or had just concluded. It has been the sad experience of the NDFP and the Third Party Facilitator, the RNG, as well as the GRP's own personnel, to be subjected to the whimsical and arbitrary outbursts of GRP President Duterte," the statement read.
"In any event, in accordance with the JASIG, all immunities shall remain in full force and effect even after the termination of the peace negotiations."
The NDFP's chief political consultant added that Duterte "spouted lies like the NDFP ignored the GRP proposal for a stand down agreement prior to the adoption and implementation of the coordinated unilateral ceasefire."
"Showing gross ignorance of the peace process, he even referred to The Netherlands as the facilitator rather than the Royal Norwegian Government," Sison said.
Sison also questioned Duterte's capacity to handle the peace negotiations.
"There are symptoms that Duterte is mentally unfit to handle the complexities of the affairs of his state and the peace process between the GRP and NDFP," he said.
"GRP officials in his Cabinet and the reactionary armed forces should consider whether he is mentally fit for his office or needs to be replaced in accordance with their 1987 Constitution."
Sison earlier slammed Duterte and called him the top terrorist in the Philippines for being responsible for the "mass murder" of drug suspects, among others.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, meanwhile, responded to Sison's remarks and said, "Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion."
"The President, we have to underscore, terminated the peace talks after their members had failed to show their sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peaceful negotiations with their continuous acts of violence and atrocities," Roque said in a statement.