Palace calls Belmonte-Sison meeting a ‘good start’

[Kristine Angeli Sabillo |] Despite not being privy to the discussion of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, Malacañang on Saturday said it was a promising update.

“Magandang umpisa po ito na Speaker Belmonte and Mr. Joma Sison were able to speak to each other (It’s a good start that Speaker Belmonte and Mr. Joma Sison were able to speak to each other), and we certainly welcome the statement made by Mr. Sison on our case against China before the ITLOS (International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea),” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing.

Belmonte and other government officials are in the Netherlands to attend the hearings of the Philippine petition against China before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal.

Both Belmonte and Sison confirmed the meeting, which they said was “social” in nature. They, however, declined to give specific details.

Sison told that the three-and-a-half-hour meeting involved a wide range of topics including promoting the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which is the political arm of the CPP.

The CPP founder said there is enough time to resume formal peace talks. Belmonte, on the other hand, said it was a bridge-building meeting that was appreciated by Sison, NDFP negotiating panel chair Luis Jalandoni and other NDFP members.
Belmonte was accompanied by House majority leader Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales II.

Asked if members of the Executive branch were able to speak to Sison, Lacierda said he was not sure if Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas, who is with the Philippine delegation in the Netherlands, was present at the meeting.

In the photo taken by Jon Bustamante and forwarded to by Sison, Llamas was not with the group.

Photo by Jon Bustamante
Photo by Jon Bustamante

Lacierda said Malacañang will just await the feedback of Llamas or Belmonte. He said the Philippine panel was ready to the discuss peace with the CPP-NPA (New People’s Army)-NDF.

Talks between the two parties have been stalled because of various issues, including the implementation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).