Duterte to communists: No talks until you declare ceasefire

Pia Ranada
Duterte to communists: No talks until you declare ceasefire
(UPDATED) 'Declare a ceasefire or nothing,' the President tells communists, challenging them to 50 more years of war

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – After weeks of not mentioning peace talks with communists, President Rodrigo Duterte gave an ultimatum: declare a ceasefire first then he might revive negotiations.

“There will be no talks until you declare a ceasefire,” said Duterte on Friday, September 8, during the 17th anniversary of Digos in Davao del Sur. 

He then challenged the communists to another 50 years of war if they refuse to silence their guns.

The President explained that he lost faith in the Communist Party of the Philippines after its armed wing, the New People’s Army, launched attacks against the military and police – even while the lifting of a previous ceasefire had not yet taken effect.

“If you want to return to peace talks, you declare a ceasefire or nothing. And if you say you want another war, be my guest,” said Duterte.

He repeated his offer to NPA rebels that he would make them “soldiers of this Republic” if they surrender to their mayor or to the military.

“Just CAFGU (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit), but I will give you a gun to protect the Republic of the Philippines,” said Duterte.

Last May, the government pulled out of the 5th round of talks with communists to be held in the Netherlands. This was after Duterte was angered by communists’ orders to the NPA to intensify attacks against government following the President’s martial law declaration.

Two months after, Duterte terminated talks after his own security personnel were wounded in an encounter with the NPA.

‘Unacceptable,’ says CPP

The CPP, however, said they cannot accept Duterte’s ultimatum, which for them is a “demand to surrender.”

“This is an unacceptable. Does Duterte really take the revolutionary forces for fools?” said the CPP in a statement Saturday, September 9.

The CPP said Duterte “lost all moral ground” to make such a demand. They cited NPA’s declaration of a ceasefire in August, which was made in response to the President’s commitment to released 500 political prisoners. 

“Duterte, however, wasted the goodwill of the NDFP when it failed to fulfill its commitment and took advantage of the NPA ceasefire to deploy his soldiers and conduct military offensives,” said the CPP.

“In the face of Duterte’s tyrannical rule and triple war, the people clamor for the NPA to mount more and more tactical offensives. Victories of the people’s army inspire resistance amid widespread killings and the climate of fear imposed by the Duterte regime,” they said.

The CPP defended the NPA’s “tactical offensives” as a way to make Duterte accountable for the police killings in the drug war; the alleged killing of peasants, national minorities, and youth; military occupation of civilian communities; and the Marawi conflict.

The CPP said peace talks “can proceed and make progress even while the civil war rages.” They added that they remain open to negotiations, but they said negotiations will not be fruitful “while Duterte remains obsessed with Oplan Kapayapaan and demanding NPA capitulation.”

“Duterte threatens to wage fifty more years of counterrevolutionary war. By the looks of it, Duterte may not even last his term,” said the CPP.

“He has roused the anger of the Filipino people and caused his increasing isolation. The revolutionary movement will surely outlast the US-Duterte regime,” they added. – 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.