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Duterte asks rebels: Why listen to Sison? What does he know?

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte asks rebels: Why listen to Sison? What does he know?
File photo shows a member of the New People’s Army resting in the Sierra Madre mountain range.
AFP

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday urged communist rebels to reconsider their loyalty to party founder Jose Maria Sison, saying they should not suffer and die for someone they have not seen.

Duterte claimed Sison, who has been on self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987, is living a comfortable life abroad while his followers suffer and die. 

"Why listen to Sison? What does he know? Social justice? You have not even seen that b****, yet you die for his beliefs. It's that simple," the president said in Filipino during the distribution of land ownership certificates to agrarian reform beneficiaries in Kidapawan City. 

"You just listen to lectures but you have not seen him. You have not seen the guy. He is in Amsterdam experiencing the cool weather there. Even his b**** have become frozen," Duterte added.  

In a statement on Sunday, Jaime "Ka Diego" Padilla, spokesman of the NPA's Melito Glor Command in southern Luzon said the president's tirades against Sison are an attempt to undermine the revolutionary movement and played down Sison's being abroad.

"The entire nation knows that Duterte is in the Philippines but he puts foreign interests first. On the other hand, Ka Joma is not in the country but cares for and serves the interests of the people," Padilla said in Filipino.

"In the past 50 years, the support for and high recognition of Ka Joma from the revolutionary forces and the Filipino people has not waned. The revolutionaries and the people recognize that the struggle will not have lasted five decades without Ka Joma's guidance and without his leadership in founding the party," Padilla also said.

'Failed rebellion'

Sison formed the CPP in 1968 as a reaction to the policies and alleged abuses of the administration of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

Although Sison is recognized as the party's founding chairman, it is unclear whether he still remains at its helm. The party announced in March that it had elected a new set of leaders last year, with "more than half of the newly-elected Central Committee members from the young and middle-aged cadres of the Party." 

Talks between the government and the rebels collapsed in 2017 after Duterte accused the communists of demanding a power-sharing deal that he said would violate the constitution. 
Communist negotiators have denied making such a demand and have blamed the cancellation of the talks "spoilers" from the government. 

Last week, Sison claimed the communist movement remains relevant because of the social ills plaguing the country under Duterte. Officials have disputed this, saying the CPP's armed struggle has only resulted in bloodshed and destruction of property. They also stressed that the government is stepping up measures to solve the root causes of rebellion. 

"I have said this before and I will say this again. There are no victors and losers in this war but...what is invested there is blood and life," Duterte said.

RELATED: ‘50 years of CPP-NPA a failed rebellion’

Duterte promises fast-tracked land reform 

To persuade the rebels to abandon violence, Duterte promised to fast-track the implementation of land reform, admitting that the conflict won't end unless land is distributed to the people.  

"We will continue with the land reform program of government as fast as we can," the president said. 

"That agrarian reform, I will give it to you. All communists, you take charge of the implementation. But there are rules to be followed, you cannot just screw up everything and seize land," he added.

Duterte appointed Rafael Mariano, a former Anakpawis party-list congressman and a nominee of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines that represents the rebels in peace talks, Agrarian Reform secretary in 2016. The congressional Commission on Appointments rejected his appointment over allegations from representatives of landlords that he had abused his authority.

Duterte cited his decision to prioritize the Ati, or the indigenous people of Boracay island, in the distribution of land in the newly-rehabilitated island. 

RELATED: Boracay land reform issues resolved by end of 2018

"Imagine, their children can earn millions. When did the Ati ever earn millions of pesos? I will give it to them and ten years from now, they can sell it...Or perhaps I can lower it to five, you can dispose of it," Duterte said.

That can only be done if the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms is amended. Under the law, land awarded to agrarian reform beneficiaries "shall not be sold, transferred or conveyed except through hereditary succession, or to the government, or to the LBP, or to other qualified beneficiaries through the DAR for a period of ten years."

The president also denied claims that he ordered the rehabilitation of Boracay to accommodate Chinese gaming firms.

AGRARIAN REFORM

JOSE MARIA SISON

LAND REFORM

RODRIGO DUTERTE

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