DEATH and surrender are the only two options under which peace negotiations with communist rebels can be revived, according to President Rodrigo Duterte.
In an interview with reporters after groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of Christine Villas housing project at Barangay Maria Cristina in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte, Duterte on Wednesday said that as of now, resumption of the peace talks is still out of reach.
“The barometer is if they give up or [if]they are all dead. I do not have any choice. They are fighting the government. They’re killing the soldiers and policemen, so my order is also to kill them.”
“What else can I do? My forces are already being killed,” Duterte said.
The fight, however, may be over soon, according to the President.
“If they all surrender tomorrow, [the conflict]is over. What could be the use of [force]? But as I see, they are still fighting. There are a lot left. But I know that they are already having a hard time because [their members]are already old and sick,” Duterte said.
“Their leaders, their higher echelons, they are done. They are old. Their minds do not work like it used to before. But their members, they still are big in number,” he added.
The President said the time is still not ripe for the resumption of the peace talks.
“Not at this time. Maybe. Alongside with the mass surrenders is also the ferocity of those fighting,” Duterte noted.
He said he ordered the military to reinvent the doctrine on detachments in highways.
“My soldiers who are standing in the detachments just die so we are reconfiguring the movement of the forces. I told my soldiers to modify the detachments, except in population centers. In highways, I do not want [the current set-up]because they [communist forces]know how to [use their]snipers,” Duterte added.
He said he is still not satisfied with the number of surrenderers, since there are a lot more left.
Duterte “formally terminated” the peace talks with the communist rebels last November after signing Proclamation 360, after they “failed to show sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peace negotiations as [they]engaged in acts of violence and hostilities.”
Since then, he has flipped-flopped on his stand.
Most recently, he got into a word war with Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, who earlier said he can command his troops to kill one soldier a day until the government revives the peace talks.
Duterte then replied that he will order his soldiers to kill five NPA rebels for every soldier killed.