Sison won't return to PH in August as earlier agreed

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 20) — Self-exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison will not return to the Philippines as originally scheduled in August because of President Rodrigo Duterte's cancellation of peace talks.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, Sison,said he would only set foot in the country again if a comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms is signed with the government.

"That cannot be in August anymore because Duterte has upset the work schedule of the panels by canceling the resumption of formal talks in Oslo from June 28 to 30," he explained.

Sison, who is on self-exile in the Netherlands, also serves as chief consultant of the umbrella organization National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), which represents the rebels in talks to end the five-decade communist insurgency.

His statement clarifies reports that he was returning to the Philippines for the peace talks in the second week of August.

NDFP consultant Rey Casambre told CNN Philippines the reports were based on the agreements signed by representatives of the government and rebels during the back channel talks.

"Aside from the projected date, the agreements expressly state the purpose of the visit and the necessary conditions and preparations to be completed," Casambre said, without providing details.

The Duterte government earlier cancelled the resumption of talks set on June 28 citing the need for public consultations.  This is another setback in the negotiations after Duterte walked away from the talks in November 2017.

PH venue 'unacceptable'

Sison also maintained that peace talks should be done in a "foreign neutral venue" like Norway. The Norwegian government has been  hosting and facilitating the peace talks.

Duterte on Tuesday insisted he wanted the talks in the Philippines.

"Bakit ako magpupunta doon sa ibang lugar? Dito tayo mag-usap. (Why will I go to another country? Let's talk here). I guaranteed him safety and security for the duration of the talks," he said, referring to Sison.

The CPP however said Duterte's demand is "totally unacceptable," and will "completely paralyze the talks."

"In the demand to hold the talks in the Philippines, Duterte is practically scrapping The Hague Declaration of 1992 and, by consequence, the entire peace NDFP-GRP peace negotiations itself," the CPP said in a statement.

The 1992 Hague Joint Declaration requires both parties to create an atmosphere conducive to peace the talks. It calls for talks to be held in accordance with "mutually acceptable principles" and with "no preconditions" that will negate the character and purpose of the negotiations.