It’s your problem, Lorenzana tells Joma

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    DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday addressed concerns raised by communist leaders, specifically Jose Maria “Joma” Sison who said he could not trust government’s assurance they would not be arrested if they come to the Philippines if and when peace negotiations resume.

    Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines and a consultant in the peace negotiations, has been on self-exile in the Netherlands since the late 80s. A number of communist leaders also live there.

    Lorenzana said it is Sison’s problem if he could not trust in the assurance given by President Duterte.

    He also said it was the communist group that requested the President to reopen the peace negotiations, apparently referring to efforts to revive the talks last year.

    “Ano siya, sinuswerte? In the first place it was they who came to the President to request for the reopening of the talks through Sison’s emissaries. If they do not trust the assurance of the President that they will but be arrested then that is their problem,” said Lorenzana.

    President Duterte last week said he ordered Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to go to the Netherlands and talk with Sison about a possible resumption of the peace talks.

    National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. later said Duterte wants the peace negotiations held in the Philippines.

    The government and Sison’s group have had four rounds of formal talks and those were held in the Netherlands, Norway, and Italy.

    Sison rejected the “precondition” that the next round be held here, and raised the issue of arrest.

    In a statement yesterday, Sison said they cannot trust the Duterte administration which he said refused goodwill measures, like the release of political prisoners. He insisted that the talks be held in a “foreign neutralize venue.”

    Sison said the government has to prove it is not setting a trap for communist negotiators to get murdered or arrested.

    AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the military and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict are so far successful in the campaign to rid the country of the insurgency problem.

    Because of this, the military wants to continue operations to defeat the New People’s Army, the CPP’s armed wing, amid efforts to revive the peace negotiations.

    “If there is anyone in this country who wants peace, it should be your soldiers because they are ones facing the perils and the danger of everyday life fighting the communist terrorist group,” said Arevalo.

    “And if we are winning at this stage, we feel that we should continue (operations against the NPA)… We are successful in our fight against communist groups in our bid, in line with the order of the President himself, to be able to rid the New People’s Army before the end of his term in June 2022,” said Arevalo.