Duterte open again to peace talks

February 09, 2019
Rodrigo R. Duterte
Rodrigo R. Duterte

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Friday raised the possibility once again of resuming peace negotiations with the communist rebels days after saying he would never talk to them anymore.

In a speech in Legazpi City, Duterte said he was ready to spend for peace as he appealed to the communists to stop their extortion activities and collection of revolutionary taxes.

“I said I will guarantee na ako na mismo ang ga-gastos sa talks. You can come courtesy of the money of the people of the Philippines,” Duterte said.

“You can come and be billeted in simple hotels because luxury is not for us. And you can come in peace. Hindi kayo huhulihin,” he added.

Duterte’s statement came more than a week after he told troops in Jolo, Sulu that he would no longer revive the negotiations, citing the attacks by the rebels on soldiers and policemen during peace negotiations, which the government saw as a sign of bad faith.

Peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels bogged down in November 2017 after Duterte lamented the continued attacks by the rebels on troops and civilians.

The talks were supposed to resume in June last year in Norway but Duterte called the negotiations off to give way to public consultations and review of existing agreements.

Last September, Duterte told troops in Isabela that the communist insurgency may be over by the second quarter of 2019, pointing to the continued surrender of New People’s Army members and fall of several guerilla fronts in Mindanao as indicators.

Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison scoffed at Duterte’s claim and said the President was delusional.