Formal peace negotiations between communist rebels and the government may resume this month, Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison said, but the Duterte administration must start releasing political prisoners as a goodwill measure.
Sison added he is willing to have a one-on-one meeting with his former student, President Rodrigo Duterte, in Hanoi but only “after the mutual approval of an interim peace agreement.”
“The release of the political prisoners on humanitarian grounds will ensure the success of the formal meeting to resume the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front within January,” he said.
Sison, who has been on self-exile in Utrecht since 1987, said several NDF consultants were among those detained by the government following the termination of the peace talks in Nov. 2017, which in effect cancelled the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.
Among the NDF consultants who were arrested after negotiations broke down were Vicente Ladlad, Adelberto Silva, Rey Casambre, and Esterlita Suaybaguio.
Ladlad is accused of involvement in the multiple murder cases in Southern Leyte for the purging of communist members tagged by the CPP leadership as government spies in their organization.
Another consultant, Rafael Baylosis, was arrested in Jan. 2018, but was eventually released by a Quezon City regional trial court.
Meanwhile, the Palace said it will heed the recommendation of military and security forces if the 16-day ceasefire with the communists should be extended. Sison broached the possibility of widening the period covered by the truce declaration if NDF consultants are released.
“We will defer that to the recommendation of the military,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
The holiday truce, which began on Dec. 23 at 12:01 a.m., will end Tuesday at 11:59 p.m.