Jose Maria Sison on Friday shrugged off President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to kill him, saying it would be best for them to continue “preparing for the resumption of formal talks and make substantial progress as soon as possible.”
“PRRD [Duterte] has repeated so many times the threat to kill me that sometimes I surmise that the expression ‘kill’ has actually become a term of endearment, as in some American comedies,” Sison, the chief political consultant of the communist National Democratic Front of the Philippines, said in a statement posted on the NDFP website.
“It seems to me that in using strong words, he is eager to resume the peace negotiations rather than to block them.”
Sison made his statement even as the military on Friday condemned the killing of a town councilor in Cagayan that the communist New People’s Army claimed responsibility over.
Zaldy Millare, 58, was in his wielding shop in Labben village in Allacapan town when he was shot and killed by two men on a motorcycle around 5:30 pm on Thursday.
“The Northern Luzon Command, together with the leadership of the province of Cagayan headed by Governor Manuel Mamba, strongly condemns this terroristic act done by the CPP-NPA,” said Lt. Col. Isagani Nato.
Sison said he had “reason to be optimistic on the basis of the hard and productive work that the negotiating panels had already done in the form of back-channel consultations, consensus building, and bilateral drafting, unless the Duterte regime was once more backtracking.”
In a speech in his hometown Davao City on Thursday, Duterte threatened to kill Sison if the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines decided to return to the Philippines and even if that would mean the collapse of the talks with the communists.
If nothing happened in two months and there was no clear understanding, Duterte said, he would personally escort Sison to the airport. “I will allow him to go out.”
Then Duterte started cursing Sison and said he would kill him if he returned to the Philippines.
Last month, Duterte invited Sison to return to the Philippines. Sison has been living in Utrecht in The Netherlands as an asylum seeker and a political refugee since 1987.