Sign peace accord before making demands, Joma told

Ted P. Torres (The Philippine Star) - June 14, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A peace agreement must be signed before National Democratic Front (NDF) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison can make demands, chief government negotiator Alexander Padilla said yesterday.

Padilla said communist rebels should also end their armed struggle before forging a peace accord with the government.

“We always welcome any effort to have peace in our country.  Who wouldn’t be happy with that?  But I have some concerns regarding the demands of Joma Sison,” Padilla told reporters during a press briefing at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., of which he is president and chief executive officer. 

Padilla cited Sison’s call for the release of around 500 political prisoners and the abolition of the Visiting Forces Agreement. 

“The dividends of peace agreements are achieved when there is an agreement, not before. If you will read the official newsletter of the CCP (Communist Party of the Philippines), I don’t think they have the intention to give up the armed struggle,” he said.

“If their demands are given before an agreement, then what are we negotiating for?” he added.

Padilla cited the release of nine NDF consultants, four  of whom returned to the underground movement.

He said  president-elect Rodrigo Durterte should ensure that negotiations with the NDF would also cover the CPP and the New People’s Army.

“The incoming president has good relationship with the Left, we may finally achieve peace.  But they have to show that the struggle is over... that they trust the government and that they will tell the NPA in the uplands to come down and surrender their firearms,” he said.

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