Duterte threatens re-arrest of communist leaders

Pia Ranada
Duterte threatens re-arrest of communist leaders
The threat comes in the wake of the guerrillas' call for more attacks against government following the declaration of martial law in Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines – If the communists’ recent call for rebels to intensify attacks against government leads to a “breakdown” of security, President Rodrigo Duterte will order the re-arrest of communists released temporarily. 

Duterte gave this warning to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Wednesday, May 31, during a speech at the 119th Anniversary of the Philippine Navy in Davao City.

“If there is a breakdown in the peace and order here because of the participation of the communists in this war against ISIS, if you want to help the other side, go there, but I am warning the leaders whom I have released and who are now talking to the representatives of my government, do not attempt to come home,” said Duterte.

“I will arrest all of you and throw you through the slammer,” he added.

Duterte appeared to be referring to the roughly 20 National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants released temporarily by government to allow them to participate in peace talks. The NDF is the political arm of the CPP.

These consultants include alleged CPP top leaders Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Tiamzon.

This is not the first time Duterte has threatened to re-arrest the NDF consultants. After the lifting of ceasefires and suspension of talks in February, Duterte gave police the order to make arrests.

However, a month later, the government and NDF panels agreed to formally resume peace talks.

His latest tirade against them comes days after yet another breakdown of talks in the wake of the President’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

‘Bravado’

In his Wednesday speech, Duterte blasted the CPP for calling on its armed rebels to intensify attacks against government as a response to his declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

He belittled the rebels’ ability to take control of territory.

“For all of their bravado, they never occupied even a barangay for 24 hours,” said Duterte.

He said it would be folly for the guerrillas to help ISIS-inspired groups fight the government. They would still be “marginalized” in a country ruled by terrorists.

“Why, if ISIS wins in the Philippines, will you have a role in this world? Let’s not kid ourselves. You will be marginalized, an outcast,” he said.

But the CPP has said in a statement that it condemns terrorism.

“The Party has long declared its policy of fighting terrorism. The Party has consistently condemned groups that attack civilians,” said the CPP in a May 29 statement.

The CPP’s call for the NPA to carry out more attacks against government forces convinced Duterte to pull the government out of the 5th round of talks with communists. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.