President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday called on the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA) to show sincerity in peace talks with the government.
This was after recent attacks carried out by the NPA in Mindanao despite their leaders’ announcement that they would halt offensives in the island, which is under martial law following the terrorist attack on Marawi City in May.
“We can talk but do not give me a double face… I know practically everybody. We used to talk. We were friends but that was during the time when I was mayor,” Duterte said in his remarks during rites marking the 50th founding anniversary of Davao del Norte province.
The President said he was “burdened with the responsibility of running the country” and would fight for troops attacked by communist rebels.
“Pag kalaban mo `yung pulis ko, magkalaban talaga tayo. Kung magkabarilan, e di magkabarilan [If the police is your enemy, you are truly my enemy. If it warrants a shootout, there will be a shootout]. But can you just stop fighting for a while?” he said.
The government and the NPA have agreed to cease offensives in Mindanao to allow security forces to focus on the continuing operations against the Islamic State-affiliated terrorists in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
Despite the bilateral ceasefire in southern Philippines, the NPA reportedly staged attacks in Mati City, Davao Oriental; Calatrava, Negros Occidental; and Panabo City, Davao del Norte.
Malacañang has said it would deal “decisively” with the “serious offensives” carried out by the NPA.
On Friday, the Palace warned of possible attacks by NPA rebels in Mindanao and in other parts of the country.
“We wish to forewarn the public of reported planned attacks of the NPA on people-oriented programs and infrastructure projects. And we request the citizenry of Mindanao and everyone else in the country to be on the alert and on the lookout,” Abella told a news conference in Davao City.
He said the government was unable to get details about the plot.
“The announcement is that we should be vigilant and we should be careful about our surroundings. Let us listen to the directives of our local authorities,” Abella said. “We cannot say what are planning but we have to be careful.”
The government earlier suspended the fifth round of negotiations with the communists, after the rebels directed their armed wing, the NPA, to intensify offensives against state forces implementing martial law in Mindanao.