Duterte on peace talks with communists: ‘Maybe another President can do it’

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will not be pursuing peace talks with the communists for the rest of his term.

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In a speech during the Philippine Army’s 58th Change of Command Ceremony at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, the Commander-in-Chief argued that there’s no use engaging the National Democratic Front (NDF) in peace negotiations because it would not be beneficial to the country.

“We are fighting NPA (New People’s Army). At this stage, I am not ready to talk to them (communists) because it is not good for the country. If it is good for the country, I’m okay with it. But for now, I don’t like it,” Duterte said.

The NPA is the armed wing of the NDF, the umbrella group of all communist organizations in the country.

“Maybe, it would take some time. Maybe another President can do it. You know, we have been at odds [with the Reds]for 50 years. I used to listen to [NDF leader Jose Maria] Sison. Of course, you have ideals; on what you want the world to be. But when you get older, you would know that this is not really possible, that life is really unfair,” Duterte added.

Government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello 3rd said in August that the peace talks between the government and the NDF were definitely over, considering the threat of the NDF to intensify operations against the government in protest of the five-month extension of martial law in Mindanao and the July 19 ambush of two Presidential Security Group convoys.

In September, however, the President said that he was open to resuming peace talks, provided the communists declared a ceasefire, before backtracking again on Thursday.

The Duterte administration initially released 19 NDF consultants as a show of good faith, but Solicitor General Jose Calida has called for their arrest after the termination of the peace talks between the government and the communist rebels.

Included on the list of NDF consultants were Satur Ocampo, Vicente Ladlad and Randall Echanis.

 

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