Joma: Duterte causing confusion in talks

Exiled communist leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison opposed a proposal to seek a review by Congress of draft agreements between rebels and the government as a condition for formal talks to start, saying this was one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s tactics to sabotage the talks.

Sison, in an online interview, said “confusing the steps” could be the President’s “way of paralyzing and killing the peace negotiations.”

Sison made the remark after Silvestre Bello III, the government’s chief negotiator, was quoted as saying the government would not sign the interim peace agreement with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) without consulting lawmakers and other stakeholders first.

Bello was quoted as saying this was one of the reasons the President canceled the resumption of talks originally set for June 28 in Oslo, Norway.

Norway hosts the talks and plays the role of third-party facilitator, which presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said need not be a foreign country.

Roque, at a press conference in Cotabato City, sought to correct what he said were erroneous reports that quoted him as saying there was no need for a third party in talks with the NDFP anymore and that Norway was being removed from that role.

The report that quoted him saying that was a “fabrication,” Roque said.

“The point of the President was he could not understand why the talks needed to be held in other countries,” Roque said.

“Any party who wants to help and who’s been involved in the process can help,” he added. —Reports from Delfin T. Mallari Jr. and Allan Nawal

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