President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, February 7, said he would pursue efforts for peace with the enemies of the states including communist rebels despite his decision to terminate talks with them last year.
“I would talk to the enemies of the states, make peace with them and hopefully we can finally reach that level of comfort in our country without worrying about fighting,” Duterte said in his speech during the 145th founding anniversary and 2nd Kanlahi Festival in Tarlac.
In Pasay City on Tuesday, March 6, in his speech at an event organized by a business group, Duterte said a ceasefire declaration by communist rebels may make him resume talks with the communists.
“As far as I’m concerned, no talks, no ceasefire. Work it out. If you can have it, fine, show it to me, maybe I will reconsider,” Duterte said.
Duterte formally terminated peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA), with his issuance of Proclamation 360 in November 2017.
Duterte issued Proc. 360 which declared “the termination of peace negotiations with the NDF-CPP-NPA and all its adjuncts and organizational units,” as the NPA continued its attacks on government forces even as panels of the government and the NDF were deep in negotiations. Theproclamation also said that the communists “failed to show its sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful negotiations as it engaged in acts of violence and hostilities.”
The President after issuance of Proc. 360 would call the CPP/NPA combine as a “terrorist group.”
In his speech in Tarlac, Duterte said he canceled peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) after CPP founder Jose Maria Sison demanded for a coalition government.
“The problem with Sison, which I would like to have a peace talk, reach out to him. The problem is Sison wants at the end of the day a coalition government,” Duterte said.
The President said he cannot grant Sison’s demand because “sovereignty or the power to run the country, which is their sovereign power of the state, is given to Filipinos who are elected by the people.”
“So I said, if that’s what you want, at this early, let us stop this because I cannot give you what I do not own,” Duterte said.
Duterte said his government remains focused in solving the problems of law and order particularly terrorism, crimes and illegal drugs.
“You are lucky here in Luzon. The NPA movement is strongest in Mindanao particularly in my area of eastern Mindanao,” he said.
The President said series of harassments against civilians and killings of soldiers committed by the NPA despite an ongoing ceasefire had also prompted him to terminate the peace talks.
Though a number of NPA rebels and supporters have already returned to the fold of the law, Duterte said fighting remains abound in the eastern side of the country.
“If the Lord God have mercy, I think I can maybe solve the problem of the NPAs,” he said.
Duterte said the Moro rebel groups particularly the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have also expressed interests to attain long lasting peace in Mindanao.
Last Tuesday, Duterte hosted a dinner for the third batch of NPA rebel returnees at the Malacanang Palace.
Speaking before the 187 rebel returnees, Duterte said the rebel group has been fighting the government for the past 50 years and has brought nothing except misery to the lives of the people.
He promised the former rebels of financial assistance, education, training, jobs as well as their integration to the Armed Forces.
He also pledged to bring female rebel returnees to Hong Kong for them to see the achievements of capitalist societies, contrary to the promises of the NPA.
Duterte has congratulated the military for a job well done in convincing the NPA rebels to surrender. (PNA)