Joma Sison welcomes Duterte’s offer of peace, but declines Cabinet position

MANILA, Philippines — Jose Ma. “Joma” Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), on Monday welcomed presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte’s offer of peace.
“His offer of peace is very welcome. Of course, as the peace process progresses I wish I shall have the opportunity of returning home and I thank him for his welcome,” Sison said in a Skype interview on CNN Philippines.
Sison said this after Duterte offered his hand in peace and told the former that he is open to talks with the CPP during a press briefing earlier the same day. He added that he is prepared to return to the Philippines after “a certain point is reached in the peace process.”
Peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDFP resumed on February 2011 after a hiatus of more than six years. The NDFP postponed talks in August 2004 when the United States reinstated the terrorist listing of the CPP, its military wing the New People's Army (NPA), and Sison.
Duterte also offered four Cabinet positions to the CPP: Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Labor and Employment, and Department of Social Welfare and Development.
According to Sison, the CPP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which represents the former in peace talks with the government, are “thankful for the offer.”
When asked by CNN Philippines’s Pia Hontiveros if he is seeking a position, Sison declined.
“No, I don’t want any position for myself but you know there are many people who are very competent. Those who are oriented to serve the people, who have the expertise and competence and who are diligent. And they are not necessarily communists.”
He added, however, that the CPP and NDFP would “consider seriously” the offer and “do everything possible to help [Duterte] make the best possible appointments to those Cabinet positions.”
But accepting the offer may be in contrast with the aim of the CPP-NPA-NDFP to overthrow the government primarily through an armed revolution and establish a socialist state. Since its formation on Dec. 26, 1968, the CPP has been waging one the world’s longest-running Maoist insurgency.
Duterte, a former student of Sison at the Lyceum University, said that as he is about to assume the presidency the CPP has to realize that he is part of the government and therefore an enemy.  “We can talk,” he said.
Sison answered that he already has an emissary currently in Davao City who can prepare his direct conversation with Duterte. 
“So you know preparations can easily be made for my meeting with President Duterte. And, of course, we are now laying the groundwork for the peace process.”
Duterte was accused of having close ties with the communists during the campaign period. Last year he has allowed a hero's burial for slain NPA leader Leoncio Pitao also known as Commander Parago who he described as his friend. When criticized about this, he said he disagrees with the armed struggle, but it is part of his job as Davao City mayor to keep communication lines open to maintain peace.

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