CPP says it's 'always open' to resumption of peace talks after Sison's death

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 18) — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) reiterated on Sunday its openness to resuming peace talks with the government following the death of its founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison.

CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena told CNN Philippines that Sison said last July that peace talks can resume should President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wants it.

"The doors of the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) and the CPP are always open to peace negotiations as a means of addressing the social and economic roots of the people's armed resistance, as long as all past agreements will be reaffirmed and respected," Valbuena said.

But he said "the US-controlled defense/security establishment in the Philippines" may be opposed to resuming negotiations "because they are only interested in waging war."

The Makabayan bloc in Congress has also renewed the call for the resumption of peace talks between the national government and the CPP following Sison's death to "attain a just and lasting peace."

Sison died Friday in The Netherlands, where he had been living in exile since 1988. He was 83.

The armed conflict waged by the CPP's military wing, the New People's Army (NPA), is one of the longest running insurgencies in the world. The military estimates that there are only around 2,000 armed rebels of the group left from an estimated 25,000 at its peak.

Valbuena disputed the Department of National Defense's (DND) statement that Sison's death was symbolic of the "crumbling hierarchy" of the CPP-NPA-NDFP.

"The DND is daydreaming that Ka Joma's passing will lead to the crumbling of the Party and the revolutionary cause. It is testimony to Ka Joma's excellence as a revolutionary leader that the Party has produced large numbers of cadres and leaders capable of carrying forward the revolutionary cause far into the future," he said.

"Ka Joma has long laid down the ideological and theoretical foundations on which the Party and its leadership stands and the framework for advancing the people's cause for national and social liberation," he added.