By: Delfin T. Mallari Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon
05:34 AM May 1st, 2016
LUCENA CITY, Philippines—If Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte is elected president, expect top communist Jose Maria “Joma” Sison to turn up in the country after a 30-year absence.
Living in self-exile in Utrecht in the Netherlands, Sison would relish seeing his relatives and friends and eating home-cooked Filipino food, fruits and delicacies.
“If I were to go, everything must be ready for an eventful homecoming. We’ll hold a family reunion. The first things I will eat are mangoes, coconuts and bibingka,” Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), said in Filipino in an online interview on Saturday.
Sison went into exile after the 1986 people power revolt that ousted strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Back home, Sison said, he would initiate meetings all around the country to promote his call for national unity, peace and development.
He believes Duterte, the candidate of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), would reopen the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Since last year, Duterte has boldly expressed his interest in a coalition government with the NDFP, Sison said.
Despite his closeness to Duterte, Sison said he would not endorse his candidacy.
“I cannot endorse a candidate because I represent a revolutionary movement,” he said.
In an earlier interview, Sison said the NDFP would readily negotiate at an accelerated pace with its counterpart in a Duterte administration.
“He has gone so far as to express interest in a coalition government and in addressing the roots of the armed conflict and working out the necessary agreements on social, economic and political reforms in order to achieve a just and lasting peace. I appreciate and admire his expressed interest in seeking peace and cooperation with the revolutionary movement,” Sison said in an online interview in July last year.
But he said Duterte should not enforce the government precondition that the rebels must lay down their arms before the peace talks could resume.
Sison serves as chief political consultant of the NDFP in the peace negotiations with the government.
Duterte has declared in his stump speeches that as president, he would order an immediate ceasefire with the NDFP to pave the way for the resumption of peace talks.
Sison said that in a conversation with Duterte on April 26—when the mayor facilitated the release of five policemen from the New People’s Army (NPA)—Duterte offered a cessation of armed hostilities with the communist guerillas and Muslim secessionist forces once he is president.
Duterte’s publicly declared closeness to Sison and the NPA rebels, however, has caused concern in the military.
Some Army officers, soldiers as well as policemen interviewed by the Inquirer confided their unease over Duterte’s relationship with communist rebels and leaders.
“We admire his tough and resolute stand against corruption and criminality, but his close ties to enemies of the state and special relations with rebel leaders are too chilling for comfort,” a junior Army officer assigned to Southern Luzon said.
On April 23, speaking at the Lyceum of the Philippines, Duterte said that Sison, as one of his college professors, played a big role in molding his political and ideological views which led him to join the communist-linked student activist group, Kabataang Makabayan, which Sison founded in the late 1960s.
Duterte declared that if he won, he would be the first leftist president of the Philippines.