Joma ‘insincere’ in holding peace talks: DND chief

MANILA — Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana has accused Jose Ma. Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), of being insincere for the peace talks to succeed which have been dragging for decades.

Lorenzana said Sison’s name calling of President Rodrigo R. Duterte as “political swindler and butcher” does not reflect the sincerity of Sison and the New People’s Army (NPA) to resolve the long-running insurgency problem now on its 50th year.

Lorenzana made the statement in an exclusive interview with the Philippine News Agency at the sidelines of the FVR Golf Tournament held at the Philippine Veterans Medical Center golf course in Quezon City on Saturday.

At the same time, Lorenzana criticized Sison for insisting to hold peace talks in a foreign country like Norway, instead of the Philippines, to resolve a domestic conflict.

“The reaction of Sison of the peace talks does not help, because what is wrong when the President said that we should first study the agreements,” he said.

“What the President wants is to hold the peace talks here in the country,” Lorenzana added.

The on-and-off peace negotiations between the government and the communist rebels have been going on for decades without finding a genuine and lasting solution.

Lorenzana, a retired major general of the Philippine Army who saw action at the height of the Moro rebellion in Mindanao in 1970s and 1980s, blasted Sison ”for ordering the NPA of an all-out war and oust the President.”

“What I can say, Mr. Sison, just come home and we will talk about what you are fighting for, otherwise if you don’t come back here we will talk to the local NPA leaders, and you will be irrelevant and you will be consigned to the dustbin of history,” Lorenzana added.

Sison’s safety is being assured by no less than the President.

Lorenzana also reacted to the threat of Sison to order the NPA to attack government forces because Sison is exiled comfortably in the Netherlands, out of harm’s way, while the NPA rebels risk their lives fighting.

“It is easy for you (Sison) to say because you are living in a foreign country, enjoying and living a life of luxury and comfort,” he said.

He said Sison and the NPA “want to tie the hands of the government,” adding “this does not help” for the peace talks to progress.

Lorenzana supported the President’s call for the peace talks to be held in the country, not in a foreign land.

The defense chief said that the government is sincere in its effort for the long-drawn peace talks to be successful

With regards to the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms (CASER) proposed by the National Democratic Front (NDF) of the CPP/NPA, it is unacceptable as pointed out by columnist Bobby Tiglao, because the aim is to “nationalize all industries like power and everything.” BEN CAL/PNA