Welcome to Duterte’s willingness to talk peace and let backchannel talks to lay the ground

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Comment by Jose Maria Sison, NDFP Chief Political Consultant

I welcome the report that in his recent cabinet meeting President Duterte expressed his willingness to talk peace with me, depending on backchannel or informal talks between representatives of his government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

My position is in accordance with the policy of the NDFP to be open to peace negotiations with the GRP on the basis of the joint agreements that have been accumulated and on the basis of drafts that have been previously worked out by the GRP and NDFP panels, reciprocal working committees and bilateral teams .

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I think that formal peace talks can be resumed by reaffirming the aforesaid joint agreements, removing those  obstacles  that terminate and prejudice serious peace negotiations and setting forth the agenda, to include first of all the negotiation of the Interim Peace Agreement (IPA).

The IPA is a package of agreements: 1. general amnesty and the release of all political prisoners, 2. the articles on  Agrarian Reform and Rural Development and National Industrialization and Economic Development in the Comprehensive Agreement of Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), and  3. coordinated unilateral ceasefires.

After the IPA is accomplished, then the rest of CASER can be negotiated easily. In quick succession, the negotiations on political and constitutional reforms and the end of hostilities and disposition of forces can follow.

At a certain point in the progress of the peace negotiations, I shall  meet President Duterte face to face for the purpose of accelerating the progress of the peace negotiations and ensuring that the Filipino people will enjoy full national independence, democracy, social justice, economic development and cultural progress  under conditions of a just peace.

The  backchannel team of the NDFP negotiating panel is authorized to explore and recommend what are the legal, political and security requirements for my meeting with President Duterte. It is obvious that at the moment there are obstacles which prejudice and put at grave risk not only my personal safety but more importantly the safety and continuity of the entire peace process if I were to go immediately to the Philippines without the necessary precautions.

According to the NDFP negotiators and my lawyers, it would be legal, political and physical suicide  for me to jump into a pit in which Proclamation Nos. 360 (terminating the peace negotiations) and 374 (designating the CPP and NPA as terrorist), EO No. 70 (militarizing government and society), the Anti-Terrorism Act, the case of walking skeletons, the false charge of terrorism before the Manila RTC and so many death squads are waiting for me. Thus, the war hawks would be successful in killing any hope of peace negotiations.###

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