Sison: No talk with Bello if it's in PH

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The communist leader claims President Duterte and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon put forward a precondition to hold the talks in the country. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 7) — After saying he would agree to a meeting with the government's ex-chief negotiator, communist leader Jose Maria "Joma" Sison clarified that he will not push through with the talk if it has to take place in the Philippines.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman claimed he received word from President Rodrigo Duterte and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon of a precondition to the meeting with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello.

"Within 24 hours after the Duterte offer, he and his sidekick Esperon put forward the precondition that the peace negotiations must be resumed in the Philippines," said Sison on Friday.

Sison, who is currently on self-exile in the Netherlands, had staunchly objected to returning to the country to conduct peace negotiations with the government.

"This precondition is totally unacceptable to the [National Democratic Front of the Philippines] because it aims to put the NDFP and the entire peace negotiations in the pocket of the Duterte regime and under the control and surveillance of the bloodthirsty military and police who engage in mass murders and other heinous crimes with impunity," said Sison. Sison is also the chief political consultant of the NDFP which represented the rebels in the now-terminated peace talks with the government.

On Thursday, Duterte said he will send Bello to speak to Sison as his "last card" in reaching a peace agreement with the left. Sison had initially welcomed the offer.

“I went to the extent of saying that the NDFP had never closed the door to peace negotiations with the [government of the Republic of the Philippines] under Duterte or any other president,” he said.

Sison clarified that he had wanted to discuss the release and amnesty of political prisoners, their proposed reforms and ceasefires.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it welcomes the President's call for a possible resumption of talks with the CPP.

"The AFP respects and supports the wisdom of the Commander-in-Chief in issuing such pronouncements," it said in a statement.

Duterte ended the peace talks with the NDFP in March and terminated the services of its peace panel, including Bello as chief government negotiator. This after talks were shelved in November 2017, after the two parties accused each other of violating ceasefires.

Sison said the move to end the talks, as well as Proclamation No. 374, which declared the CPP as an "identified terrorist organization" continue to prevent peace negotiations "if these are not overcome and repealed in conjunction with the reaffirmation of all agreements mutually approved by the GRP and NDFP since The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992."