By Hannah Torregoza
Sen. Richard Gordon today said he supports calls suggesting that the resumption of peace talks between the government and communist rebel groups be held in the Philippine soil.
Gordon said bringing back the negotiating table in the country would primarily help the government save funds.
“That’s right. I agree with that. It should be done here. We are spending so much money. It’s time they come here,” Gordon said in an interview over Radio DZBB.
He said holding the peace talks within the Philippines would also help the government ascertain whether the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) founder Jose Maria Sison still has control over their armed wing.
“We need to know whether he still has control over his people. Because most of the time, even if there are peace talks, NPA elements still kill soldiers here,” Gordon pointed out.
President Duterte had earlier offered to should the trip of communist leaders as soon as they agree to hold the peace talks within the country.
The President said he rejected Sison’s suggestion that they meet in Vietnam and gave him 60 days to come home. He also said he would make sure that Sison does not get killed when he comes back to the country.
Last month, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), also suggested that it would be better for the government and the group’s political wing National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), to conduct the peace talks in the country.
Gordon said Sison should follow Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari who made it a point to bravely discuss their group’s demands with the government even though they were a small force. This move, he pointed out, triggered the government to pursue the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro basic law (BBL).
“Joma Sison is a very intelligent person in the first place but I think it’s time he comes back home…he should come here and discuss their demands here face to face, and not while he is in another country,” Gordon stressed.
Earlier, Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon said he supports the President’s decision that the venue of the next round of peace talks be held in the Philippines.
Drilon also suggested that the next round of talks should not include any international third party to accelerate the discussion.
“The peace talks have always been held in an international ground but it did not seem to accelerate discussion. Let the real peace talks begin in a local arena. No third party this time,” Drilon said.
“We will never achieve a true and lasting peace if the CPP-NPA-NDF, after a series of peace negotiations that took place, would still say they do not recognize the legitimacy of the government. It is about time that they show they really do. Go to the Philippines and let’s talk peace,” the minority leader stressed.