This story was also published on GMA News online.
Utrecht, The Netherlands — Revolutionary leader Jose Maria Sison met with House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte at a Japanese restaurant in Amsterdam last July 9, and it was more than just a social call.
While Sison said the meet-up started as an informal dinner among friends, he added that the most important topic discussed was that of the peace negotiations.
“The most important part of the conversation was the issue of the peace talks. Speaker Belmonte asked us about our ideas and expectations since [President Benigno Aquino III’s] term is already ending next year,” the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said.
Belmonte was joined by fellow House members Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II, Isidro Ungab and Budoy Madrona, while Louis Jalandoni, who chairs the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) accompanied Sison during the dinner at Sapporo restaurant in the southern part of Amsterdam.
Sison applauded Belmonte’s interest and continued support for the peace negotiations to succeed, but reiterated that immediate action from the Aquino government is needed to proceed with the talks.
The talks of peace between the government and the NDFP are currently stalled after the government refused to release 16 NDF peace consultants, including the couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, who were arrested last year.
Sison is not giving up hope though. If the government is determined to pursue peace, he said, it can be done even before Aquino’s term is up.
“There is still a lot that can be done even before Aquino’s term ends. The Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms and Agreement on Truce and Cooperationcan be finished. The Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law was done in 4 to 6 months. If the government wants peace, it can be done,” he said.
But according to Sison, the government panel may have to put its house in order first.
“The side of the government seems problematic. They’re also quite slow. At the moment, it is not even clear what the composition of their negotiating panel is. We heard that their chairman resigned and that they need to form a new team,” he said.
When asked by GMA News if there were also talks of him going home, Sison said: “No, because they know what my answer will be.”
“My job is to make sure that the peace treaty is signed. I can only go home once it is signed. Maybe we can sign it before the new president is sworn in. We can sign it in the Philippines and then I can probably stay there” he said.