No arrest for Sison, communist leaders during peace talks

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

December 8, 2019, 1:14 pm

<p>Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo (File photo)</p>

Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo (File photo)

MANILA -- Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison and other communist leaders who are facing arrest will enjoy temporary liberty upon their return to the Philippines for the possible resumption of peace talks, Malacañang said on Sunday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo guaranteed that President Rodrigo Duterte will order the suspension of arrest order issued on Sison and other members of the CPP's political arm, the National Democratic Front (NDF), once they agree to go back home for the revival of peace negotiations with the government.

"Hindi naman sila aarestuhin. At iyan naman ay pinapangako ni Presidente. Sususpendihin ang lahat ng mga pending warrant of arrest laban sa kanila kung may pag-uusap (They will not be arrested. The President is promising that. All the pending warrants of arrest against them will be suspended, in case the peace talks resume)," Panelo told dzIQ.

The assurance was made after Duterte announced on Thursday that he will be sending Bello to the Netherlands to discuss with Sison his administration's plan to give the communist movement another chance for a dialogue that will pave the way for the crafting of a peace deal.

On August 28, the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 32 ordered the arrest of Sison, his wife, and 36 others for their supposed involvement in the so-called "Inopacan massacre", the 1980 mass purging of communist rebels suspected to have links with the military in Inopacan, Leyte. No bail was recommended for the accused.

Sison has been in self-exile with his wife, Juliet, in the Netherlands since 1987.

The Manila RTC Branch 32 in January 2018 also ordered the re-arrest of communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, following the termination of peace negotiations between the national government and the communist party.

The Tiamzon couple and Silva were released from detention in August 2016 to join the peace negotiations as NDF consultants.

Duterte on Nov. 23, 2017 signed Proclamation 360, which formally scrapped peace talks with the NDF, following the series of attacks staged by the communists' armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), against the government troops and civilians.

On December 5, 2017 or barely two weeks the peace talks was scrapped, the President inked Proclamation 374, which classifies the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), as terror organizations because of their supposed commission of crimes that are “against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the law of the nations.”
The CPP-NPA has also been listed as a terror group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

'Show sincerity,' communists told

On Tuesday, Duterte said opening the government's door to possible resumption of talks with the communists would be his "last card."

Panelo said the President is always open to peace talks because he wants to achieve peace and order in the entire country before his term ends in 2022.

"Ganyan palagi ang sinasabi niya. Palagi siyang nakabukas. Merong ajar, merong maliit na bukas sa bintana o sa pintuan (That is what he is always saying. He leaves the window or the door ajar)," the Palace official said.

"Kasi alam mo ang Presidente, pareho lang ng lahat ng Pilipino. Ayaw nila ng himagsikan, rebolusyon, rebellion. Ayaw nila ng magulo, ayaw nila ng patayan. Lahat tayo gusto natin ay kapayapaan (Because you know the President has the same thinking with Filipinos. They do not want revolution, rebellion, chaos, and killings. We all want peace)," he added.

Panelo expressed hope that the communists would show "sincerity" to enable both parties to come up with a peace pact.

He said the fate of the peace negotiations would now be up to the communist rebels.

"Sa kabila iyan eh kung sinsero at tapat sa kanilang layunin na maayos ang suliranin ng bayan (It's up to the other party if they are sincere to address the problems in the country," Duterte's spokesman said.

On Friday, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said the President wants peace talks to be held in the Philippines, once both parties decide to return to the negotiation table.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Sison expressed openness to the communists' resumption of talks with the national government, but rejected the idea of holding the negotiations in the Philippines.

Panelo said there was no need for Sison and other communist leaders to worry, if the possible revival of peace negotiations happens in the Philippines.

"Hindi mahalaga yung lugar. Ang mahalaga yung katapatan ng bawat panig na mag-usap sa kapayapaan (The place is not important. What is important is the sincerity of each party to talk about peace)," he said.

"Kahit na saang lugar, kung talagang matapat ka, papasok sila sa usapan (Wherever it is, if you are since, you will agree to resume the talks)," Panelo added. (PNA)