By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
“So what do you want?”
This was the question asked on Wednesday by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to exiled communist leader Jose Maria C. Sison after the latter postponed his plan to return to the Philippines for the resumption of peace talks between the communist rebels and the government.
“I said, I would talk to the enemies of the state. Oh, ayan nakikiusap ako kay (I am pleading with Mr.) Sison. He blows hot and cold. He wants to come home, but he does not want to come home,” the President said in his speech in Iloilo City on Wednesday evening, June 20.
He added: “So what do you want? You want to overthrow my government and the existing establishment? Eh, you come here and talk, tayo mag-usap (let’s tak). I will pay for your plane fare; I will billet you in a hotel… I’m giving both of us 60 days, a very small window for us to talk.”
ABS-CBN News reported on Tuesday, June 19, that Mr. Sison was scheduled to return to the Philippines “in August.”
But in a social media post, Mr. Sison said: “I will not return to the Philippines earlier than the completion and signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms by the negotiating panels in a foreign neutral venue. That cannot be in August anymore because Duterte has upset the work schedule of the panels by canceling the resumption of formal talks in Oslo from June 28 to 30.”
If the President continues to prevent the peace negotiations, Mr. Sison said he can also postpone his return “until the Filipino people succeed in ousting the tyrant Duterte from power.”