Joma told: Shut up, let others talk
(The Philippine Star) - August 4, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison should come home to talk peace, but this may be easier said than done, President Duterte said yesterday.

Duterte also advised Sison to “just shut up and let others talk.”

The President told The STAR that technicalities could prevent the homecoming of Sison because of the political asylum he sought in the Netherlands.

“There is a question about coming here. He cannot go out (of the Netherlands). He is in asylum. If he gets out and returns to the Netherlands, it may be a technical issue… He may be denied entry. One of the conditions is he cannot return to the country… You won’t be able to leave. You’re not supposed to go anywhere.” 

Duterte said he is open to seeing Sison returning to the country to join the peace negotiations. But he is skeptical of the claim that the communist leader is facing threats. 

“If he comes and he wants to talk, fine with me. If he’s here, he must order his forces to stand down, at least during the negotiation stage,” the President said. 

“If he can arrange (his return) with Oslo, if he is working on it, I have no objection,” he added. 

Talks between the government and the communist rebels are scheduled to resume on Aug. 20 in Oslo, Norway. The Norwegian government serves as the third party facilitator of the talks. 

During his State of the Nation Address last July 25, Duterte declared a ceasefire with the rebels as a goodwill measure for the peace talks.

But the President called off the truce after five days because of the communists’ failure to reciprocate the ceasefire within the deadline he set.

Duterte demanded the declaration of a truce after rebels attacked government militias in Davao del Norte two days after he announced a ceasefire. The ambush left one militia man dead and four others wounded.

Sison has criticized Duterte for calling off the ceasefire and even described his character as “volatile.” 

Duterte was unfazed by the comment. 

“I’m not trying to pull my own chair but I’m here because I got 16 million (votes). The Left cannot even bring victory to their candidates. In Davao, one, two or three of them win because I carried them in my ticket. What are they boasting about? They cannot even occupy a barangay for one single day,” he said. 

Duterte also said the popularity of the communist rebels is “lean to nothing… But they are talking as if they have clout somewhere.”

Tiamzons to be released

Despite having called off the truce, the Duterte administration will temporarily release New People’s Army leaders Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma in time for the peace talks as a confidence building measure.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella confirmed yesterday that the Tiamzon couple would be among the personalities who would be given “safe passage.”

“As far as I know, they are included. I think they will be given safe passage,” he said.

The Tiamzon couple was arrested by soldiers and policemen in Barangay Zaragoza in Aloguinsan, Cebu on March 22, 2014. They are detained at the Philippine National Police headquarters at Camp Crame.

At the time of their arrest, Wilma was secretary general of the CPP/NPA, while Benito was chairman. 

The military said the couple was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest for their crimes against humanity that include murder, multiple murder and frustrated murder.

The Tiamzons, who follow a tradition in the CPP of husband and wife leadership teams, were said to have taken over the helm of the movement from Sison. – With Christina Mendez

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