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Duterte assures Joma Sison of freedom, safety for peace talks


President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday assured Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison he could leave the Philippines freely and safely should the renewed efforts for peace negotiations with the Philippine government fail.

But while he said that he is open to the reopening of peace talks, Sison opposed the idea of having it held in the Philippines, a "totally unacceptable" pre-condition for him.

"I guarantee his safety and if nothing happens in the talks, he can go back freely to where he came from. Nobody would stop him, upon my oath, sinabi ko 'yan as a president," Duterte said in an interview on ABS-CBN.

Furthermore, Duterte stressed that initial negotiations will first be between Sison and himself. And should it succeed, a newly-formed committee will take over.

"One-on-one muna ang negotiations. For as long as there are broad principles agreed upon, well the new committee that I have created will take over," Duterte said.

In December, Duterte ordered Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to fly to The Netherlands to talk with self-exiled communist leader.

“The longing for peace is always there. The doors must be open always or there must be at least one channel if everything closes, na puwede mong pakiusapan,” he said. —Joahna Lei Casilao/LBG, GMA News