Roque: Duterte wants to have private talk with Joma Sison

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(L-R) Pres. Rody Duterte, Joma Sison

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 14) — The Palace said on Sunday President Rodrigo Duterte is open to talking to Communist leader Joma Sison. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told CNN Philippines' Weekend Updates, while Duterte still refuses to go back to the negotiating table with the rebels, there are two conditions that might prompt the President to reconsider.

"Right now he's closed to it, his mind is closed to it (peace talks). But what will prompt him to reopen is really the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army) to be more humble, and he did explore the possibility of a one-on-one with Joma Sison," he said.

Roque said the President wants to talk to Sison, "just the two of them, personally — with no fanfare."

In November last year, however, Duterte said he will not allow Sison to set foot in the country, threatening his arrest.

Read: Duterte: I won't allow 'dying Sison' to return home

The communist leader has been in self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987. He is the founder of the CPP, which has been negotiating with the government through the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

The government in November ended the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDFP, following the escalation of attacks and violence.

Read: Duterte formally ends talks with Reds

Before Duterte terminated talks with the communists, the long-stalled fifth round of peace negotiations was scheduled for November 25 to 27, 2017 in Norway.

The Norwegian government had acted as third party facilitator of the talks to put an end to the 48-year-old insurgency, the longest-running in Asia.

 

Last December, Duterte declared the communist party and its armed wing a terrorist organization.

Read: President Duterte declares the communist party and its armed wing a terrorist organization

CNN Philippines Digital Producers Yvette Morales, Eimor Santos and VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.