Lorenzana dared Sison, who is in the Netherlands, to come back to the Philippines to find out how the country had “progressed a lot despite your destabilization efforts for the past 49 years.”

“You (Sison) remain in the Netherlands and you will be forgotten because the President has decided with finality that the talks would be held in our country,” Lorenzana told reporters in a text message.

“You come back, and you will end up in jail,” he said.

                                                                                                          Plaza Miranda bombing

The Defense chief said Sison and other communist leaders should be called to account for ordering the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing that killed a journalist and injured members of the Liberal Party, such as former senators Jovito Salonga, Eddie Ilarde, Eva Estrada-Kalaw and Gerardo Roxas.

The August 21, 1971 grenade blast at the Liberal Party campaign rally at Plaza Miranda in Manila was said to have been used as pretext by President Ferdinand Marcos to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and later on, declare martial rule.

Salonga, however, wrote in his autobiography that he believed Sison ordered the bombing, to sow chaos.

In April, Sison expressed willingness to make a comeback to the Philippines after 31 years of self-exile in the Netherlands, following the declaration of President Rodrigo Duterte of the resumption in peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political arm of the CPP.

Duterte, however, ordered the talks postponed last month, amid concerns aired by the military that the rebels might use a ceasefire to consolidate forces.

On Wednesday, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza listed conditions set by Duterte for the resumption of talks: no to a coalition government, no to collection of so-called revolutionary tax and no talks outside the Philippines.

The government also wants a ceasefire agreement and a restriction of members of the New People’s Army, the CPP’s armed wing, to designated camps.

Door still open

Lorenzana welcomed Dureza’s statement, saying that the government’s door for peace talks “remains open.”
“I see two scenarios here: If the NDFP rejects the call of the President that the peace talks be held in the Philippines then the peace talks with them is terminated,” Lorenzana told The Manila Times.

“What will continue is the localized peace talks by towns, provinces and regions with the NPA leadership,” he added.

The idea of local peace talks has long been proposed by Lorenzana and the military, arguing that local government units have direct knowledge of insurgency in their areas.

Lorenzana also lashed out at Fidel Agcaoili, chief of the NDFP negotiating panel, who said that the defense chief had “sounded the death knell” on the peace talks.

“Agcaoili is entitled to his warped reasoning. These so-called revolutionaries have one great defect. They espouse something and believe it to be the only truth even if the contrary fact is starting them in the face,” Lorenzana told The Manila Times.

“The peace talks will go on with or without Sison, Agcaoili, [Luis] Jalandoni, the Tiamzons and all those ageing so-called revolutionaries whose only claim to fame is to prevent this country from progressing by their atrocities in the countryside,” he said.

Acting Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also said the government remained open to talks, but questioned the sincerity of the rebels.

He claimed that the DILG had found out that the rebel groups held a People’s Congress and a Central Committee Plenum during their last unilateral ceasefire in mid-2016 to January 2017.

Año said that in the meeting, rebel made a three-year plan for a “revolutionary movement” that involved ousting Duterte if he did not agree to a coalition government.

“We were able to confirm that in May of last year, they formally launched an oust-Duterte campaign that will culminate in October of this year. What does this say of the sincerity of the Left?” Año said.

“What is the use of talking peace if government forces and civilians are dying? It is contrary to getting back to the peace table. Talking peace needs confidence-building measures,” he added.

‘Little zarzuelas’

Sison branded the local talks as “fake” peace negotiations.

“From long history of fake surrenders and fake peace talks, localized peace talks amount to little zarzuelas,” Sison said during a Skype press conference with the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of the Philippines (Focap) in Quezon City on Thursday night.

“They use military assets to pose as NPA surrenderers. This is an old threat,” he added. “[Localized peace talks] will not work.”

He said he had wanted to go back to the Philippines but “Duterte and his military minions are stopping me.”
Sison also said he had hoped for the completion discussions on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms.

Paolo Duterte weighs in

Former Davao City vice mayor Paolo Duterte also lashed out at Sison for calling him and his father, President Rodrigo Duterte, the “biggest protectors of illegal drugs” in the country.

In a statement sent to reporters, the younger Duterte said Sison was a “disgrace” and “completely losing it” for echoing an “insanely absurd” accusation.

“Mr. Sison, who is a pathological liar himself, was parroting a liar. This echolalia showed how much Mr. Sison was willing to take for the sake of public attention, propaganda, and significance,” Paolo said.

“The statement sounded insanely absurd as it was a repetition of, if not inspired by, an old gossip propagated and sowed around by an anti-Duterte senator who is also a rabid anti-communist,” he added, apparently referring to opposition senator Antonio Trillanes 4th, one of the President’s staunchest critics.

Paolo, the eldest son of the President, was earlier tagged in the P6.4-billion drug shipment that slipped past the Bureau of Customs in 2017. He resigned as vice mayor on December 25, 2017.

In Malacañang, Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the government was laughing at the supposed target of the rebels to oust the President by October.

He was confident that the communist group, led by its Sison, lacked the ability to boot Duterte out of office.
“I will just ignore Joma Sison, because he ceased to be relevant now the peace talks did not push through. If I were to comment, I’m going to make news out of their propaganda. So I will let it remain as propaganda, considering the fact that in their propaganda, the President will only stay until October,” he added.