Representatives of the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, or NDFP, which represents the communist rebels of the country, will meet this month in Norway to prepare for possible ceasefire talks, media reported Friday.
Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, who lives in Holland, said in a video conference with Philippine journalists Thursday the preliminary dialogue will begin mid-June, the Interaksyon website reported, although representatives of the incoming government are yet to confirm the place and date of these talks.
Sison hoped the NDFP and the team of Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte will arrive at an agreement in Oslo this month on the issues to be addressed in the peace negotiations.
Sison said the preliminary talks will also cover the issue of his possible return to the Philippines in July or August, after three decades, once Duterte takes office.
“It would be reckless of me to return home while (Benigno) Aquino is still the President,” he added.
Duterte has publicly invited Sison to return to the Philippines on several occasions, but NDFP said several conditions will have to be fulfilled before he does so, including a guarantee that he could return to Holland as a political exile if necessary.
NDFP’s another condition is the release of 543 political prisoners and the setting up of a mechanism to begin a mutual cessation of hostilities.
Sison has been living in Holland since 1987 after he fled the Philippines following the end of the regime of Ferdinand Marcos and the failure of the first attempt to hold peace negotiations.
The last round of talks with the communists ended in April 2013, after the government refused to release some political prisoners who had been appointed to participate in the peace talks.
Nonetheless, Duterte has announced he is willing to order the release of some insurgents even before a peace agreement is signed.
The Communist Party of the Philippines was founded in 1968 as a clandestine political organization with the aim of overthrowing the government.
The New People’s Army is the military arm of the party and has 6,000 members.
It has been engaged in a 45-year-long conflict, which has caused close to 30,000 deaths.