Gov’t reviews stance on peace talks with CPP

<font color=”#22518D”><strong>The Philippine government is reviewing its position on the long-stalled peace negotiations with self-exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison amid intelligence reports that he no longer has the command of the local communist movement.</strong></font>

Defense Secretary and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said Manila was “thinking whether (it) should continue with the peace talks (with the communist personalities in Ultrecht)” because of reports that Ultrecht-based Sison is “no longer representative” of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“We have been talking with Joma Sison, but apparently he has been ousted (by his comrades in the Philippines) as the top leader of the CPP,” Gonzales said.

“We have information that the Tiamzon couple is now the leaders of the communist movement. But we don’t know where they are,” he said.

Gonzales said that even the Norwegian government which has hosted the peace talks between the Philippine government and the communist movement was reviewing its position.

The defense chief is now pushing for “extensive peacetalks with the NPAs at the grassroots level.”

“We should now talk to all NPA combatants as many of them now want to normalize their lives,” Gonzales said. He said that talking directly to the guerillas and their families would be more fruitful than negotiation with the communist leadership in Ultrecht.

“The end game of the communist leaders in Ultrecht is coalition governance without election. They will never sign any peace agreement with us unless and until we agree to their demand for coalition governance. This is unacceptable because it is unconstitutional,” he said.

Gonzales said he had appealed to Catholic bishops to lead the grassroots peace talks with NPAs. He also noted that government’s Social Integration Program for rebels who want to return into the fold of the law will have to be continued and expanded to expedite the rebel returnees’ reintegration into democratic life.

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