PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte wants Maoist leader Jose Maria C. Sison to come home from the Netherlands so they could have a “one-on-one talk” and possibly resume peace talks.
“The president is daring him to come home to the Philippines and have a one-on-one talk with him,” presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said at a briefing on Thursday.
Mr. Sison won’t get arrested once he comes home, he said.
In a statement, Mr. Sison said the “revolutionary struggle” would continue even if peace talks resume.
“So long as there is yet no final agreement that ensures a just peace, the people and their revolutionary forces have all the right to wage the revolutionary struggle,” he said.
He added that talks could only resume if the government grants a general amnesty and release all political prisoners; approve articles of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms, and coordinate a unilateral ceasefire.
Mr. Duterte earlier said he would send Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III to the Netherlands, where Mr. Sison lives in exile, before peace discussions resume.
Mr. Bello headed a government panel in charge of peace talks last year before it got dissolved earlier this year.
The Philippine Army on Thursday accused New People’s Army rebels — the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines — of attacks in Camarines Sur and Iloilo on Monday, despite a ceasefire announced by Mr. Duterte. The ceasefire will run until Jan. 7.
Mr. Duterte would give the communist rebels a chance to explain the alleged cease-fire violation, his spokesman said.
“Since the president has always been open, giving a little window to the pursuit of peace, he will wait for the explanation.” Mr. Panelo said. — Gillian M. Cortez