Sison said he expects to visit the country in July or August to “talk intensively” with incoming President Rodrigo Duterte about peace.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), was all smiles when asked about his anticipated homecoming.
Speaking to the media via Skype, June 2, Sison said he expects to visit the country in July or August to “talk intensively” with incoming President Rodrigo Duterte about peace. Sison said he would go home after all the political prisoners have been released by Duterte and an interim ceasefire is in place.
Duterte has promised to grant general amnesty to all political prisoners. According to human rights alliance Karapatan, there are 543 political prisoners, 18 of whom are NDFP consultants.
Sison said the prospects for peace under Duterte is “high.” “For the first time, someone is not afraid to say that he is a Leftist president and he is willing to cooperate with the revolutionary movement,” Sison said.
Immunity and safety
Sison said he is not afraid of possible assassination attempts, saying he is confident that Duterte would ensure his safety. “He [Duterte] would be in a bad position if I would be assassinated,” Sison told reporters.
Asked if there are warrants of arrest issued against him, Sison said he is protected under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).
Signed in 1995 by then the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP, Jasig provides all duly accredited persons guaranteed free and unhindered passage in all areas in the Philippines, and in travelling to and from the Philippines in connection with the performance of their duties in the negotiations. Duly accredited persons are those in possession of documents of identification (DI) or safe conduct passes. Immunity guarantees for all accredited persons include immunity from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions due to any involvement or participation in the peace negotiations.
Sison criticized Commission on Human Rights chairperson Jose Luis “Chito” Gascon for being “stupid.” Gascon earlier said they would investigate cases filed against Sison. Sison said Gascon, who used to be a part of the GPH’s peace negotiation team, should know that Jasig is operative.
Sison said the charges filed against him were all fabricated. “Military prosecutors would include me in every incident…All I do here is research, teach and write,” he said.
Sison, 77, has been in exile in the Netherlands after the Philippine government cancelled his passport in 1987. He cited the Hilongos, Leyte mass grave case as one of the most preposterous cases filed against him and other NDFP consultants. Sison said he and Satur Ocampo were detained at the time of the incident while Luis Jalandoni was in Europe then.
Sison warned “peace spoilers” against sabotaging the impending GPH-NDFP talks. He said both parties should be able to transcend psywar and threats of coup de tat for the peace talks to proceed. As a political refugee, Sison needs to fulfill some technical requirement such as a return visa and a residence in the Netherlands before going to the Philippines.