Duterte now says Sison can leave PHL ‘unfettered’ if peace talks fail

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Communist leader Jose Maria Sison — PHILSTAR

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

If the peace negotiations between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) turn out “unsuccessful,” communist leader Jose Maria Sison can leave Manila “unfettered,” President Rodrigo R. Duterte vowed on Wednesday, May 30.

“I have provided a small window of 60 days. If you come home, do not worry about being killed. If it is unsuccessful, then he can go out of the country unfettered,” the President said during his speech on Wednesday evening, May 30, at the Presidential Security Group (PSG) Change of Command Ceremony held at the PSG Grandstand, Malacañang Park.

However, in his speech in Davao City on May 24, the President threatened to “kill” Mr. Sison “if nothing happens” in the peace negotiations between the two camps.

In response to Mr. Duterte’s threats, Mr. Sison said he “surmises” that the word “kill” has become “a term of endearment, as in some American comedies.”

“I will not reply to PRRD in any hostile manner, unless he actually wrecks the work already done by the negotiating panels to prepare the resumption of formal peace talks. It seems to me that in using strong words he is eager to resume the peace negotiations rather than to block them,” Mr. Sison said in a statement on May 25.

The communist leader added that it is best for both of them to “allow and encourage the government and the CPP negotiating panels “to continue preparing for the resumption of formal talks and make substantial progress as soon as possible.”

“I have reason to be optimistic on the basis of the hard and productive work that the panels have already done in the form of back channel consultations, consensus building and bilateral drafting, unless the Duterte regime is once more backtracking,” he also said.