Despite being called a “bully” by communist rebels for withdrawing his ceasefire declaration, President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he will still pursue peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
“We are hoping that we can just talk. Maybe we did not understand each other,” Duterte said in a speech during an oath-taking ceremony of new officials in Malacañang on Monday, two days after lifting his unilateral ceasefire with communist rebels.
Duterte had wanted the CPP, its political arm the National Democratic Front (NDF) and armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA) to reciprocate his unilateral ceasefire, after the July 27 ambush by communist guerillas in Davao del Norte that killed a government militiaman and wounded four others.
The President demanded that the CPP also declared a truce but the rebels failed to meet the 5 p.m. final deadline he imposed on Saturday.
The government and the communist rebels are slated to resume peace talks on August 20 in Oslo, Norway.
The lifting of the ceasefire did not sit well with Jose Maria Sison, founder of the CPP, who accused Duterte of being a “bully” and said the CPP was supposed to declare its own ceasefire at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Speaking to reporters, Duterte expressed his dismay at the CPP.
“I was the one who declared the ceasefire, we suffered casualties, and the government is the bad guy?” the President said.
“I declared a truce so the soldiers went down from the mountains, and then they were ambushed,” he added.
Still, Duterte said he remains friends with the communist rebels because just like them, he is also against those who oppress the people.
“They are socialist but they are the Communist Party of the Philippines. I am just a socialist in my dimension because I grew up poor.
I hate government and anyone oppressing the people,” he added.
When asked by media if he will reinstate the unilateral ceasefire, Duterte said he is yet to make a decision.