MANILA - Exiled communist leader Joma Sison on Sunday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to save himself from damnation by restarting stalled peace talks with rebels.
Duterte on Saturday reportedly said he would be "happy to go... to the mouth of hell" with Sison.
"Itong Communist Party na ito… I think hintayin na lang natin na matapos ang natural life nila pati akin,” he was quoted as saying by the Inquirer.
(This Communist Party, I think we should just wait for their natural life to end, as well mine.)
"Kasi matanda naman si Sison… I’d be happy to go with him hand in hand to the mouth of hell. ‘Di man talaga kami mapunta ng langit. Talagang impyerno yan."
(Sison is already old... We won't go to heaven, it's really hell.)
In a statement, the 80-year-old Sison said he has "no intention to accompany Duterte in his trip to hell, whether this be a medieval religious presumption or a figure of speech for historical infamy."
The rebel leader said Duterte "is destined for historical damnation for being treasonous, tyrannical, murderous, corrupt and swindling."
Sison however said the President, his former student in college, can still evade hell by pursuing peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
"I invite Duterte to change course from the direction of hell, mend his ways and resume serious and sincere peace negotiations with the NDFP through duly-authorized negotiating panels within the framework of The Hague Joint Declaration," he said.
"I am not blinking but I am winking at my former student to indicate to him that he can avoid getting hell from the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces by acceding to the reforms needed for a just peace," added rebel leader based in Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Peace talks between the government and communist rebels deteriorated in 2017 due to alleged continuing rebel attacks on state troops. In November that year, the President signed Proclamation 360 declaring the termination of peace negotiations.
A resumption of the peace talks was scheduled in late June last year but it was canceled as the government sought to review all agreements the communists signed with past administrations.
In December 2018, Duterte signed Executive Order 70 directing the creation of a national task force to “end local communist armed conflict.”
Government has also sought the declaration of the communist movement as a terrorist group.