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Joma insists won't return home unless socio-economic reforms deal signed

Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP) founding chairman Jose Maria Sison on Saturday denied President Rodrigo Duterte's claim that he has a rare bone marrow disease.

"I do not have any rare bone marrow disease. I do not know how President Duterte got that notion. I am now in good health. I have been out of the hospital since March 20," Sison told GMA News Online.

In a statement last month, Sison said he went through a three-week diagnostics and medical treatment but did not say for what medical reason.

He was taken to the hospital in Oslo in January, missing the closing ceremony of the third round of talks in Rome, Italy.

"I was able to attend the fourth round of formal talks, and I shall be able to attend the forthcoming fifth one," Sison said.

The fifth round of peace talks between the Philippine government and the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will take place in Noordwijk in the Netherlands from May 27 to June 1.

Duterte said in a speech on Friday that Sison has a rare bone marrow disease, which is why he wants the CCP leader to return home to the Philippines.

“I said Sison can go home here. I will guarantee his safety and freedom. He will be free to walk around, may sakit na eh. Hayaan mo. Sison is seriously sick. He has a rare—something to do with—not leukemia—but sa bone marrow. Parang ganoon na rin. Come home. I’ll pay for the hospital,” Duterte said.

Sison has been in exile ni Utrecht, The Netherlands since 1986.

Sison reiterated that he would only return home if the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) will be signed and approved by the peace talks panels.

The CASER tackles issues such as the agrarian reform, national industrialization, and foreign policy.

Negotiating panels of the government and the NDFP are expected to tackle the CASER in the fifth round of talks.

"The Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms must first be signed and approved by the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) negotiating panels and by their respective principals," Sison said when asked what would compel him to end his 30-year exile. —Anna Felicia Bajo/ALG, GMA News