Duterte ‘may reconsider’ peace talks if communists declare ceasefire

Pia Ranada
President Rodrigo Duterte also says his chief government peace negotiator has asked him to 'tone down' his statements against Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison

PEACE TALKS. President Rodrigo Duterte says his peace negotiators have asked him to tone down on his statements against Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison. Malacañang file photo

MANILA, Philippines – Months after he terminated peace talks with communist rebels and tagged them as terrorists, President Rodrigo Duterte said he “may” consider resuming negotiations if the other side declares a “ceasefire.”

Duterte said this on Tuesday, March 6, during a speech at a Go Negosyo event in Pasay City.

“As far as I’m concerned, no talks, no ceasefire, work it out. If you can have it, fine, show it to me, maybe I will reconsider,” he said. 

He began talking about communists when he mentioned that he had been angered by the statements of Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, who had described him as the “No. 1 terrorist in the Philippines.” 

Duterte had made a number of stinging comebacks at his former professor, threatening him with arrest  should he return to the Philippines, and saying he he would “slap” the 79-year-old if they ever meet.

Duterte said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the chief government negotiator in peace talks with the National Democratic Front, asked him not to be so aggressive with his comebacks at Sison. 

“Bebot Bello just asked me to tone down my – ,” said Duterte, who did not finish the sentence.

Duterte formally terminated peace talks with the communists in November 2017 when he signed  Proclamation 360 where he declared “the termination of peace negotiations with the NDF-CPP-NPA and all its adjuncts and organizational units.” 

The document also asserted that the communists “failed to show its sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peace negotiations as it engaged in acts of violence and hostilities.” 

Duterte had cited specifically the death of a 4-month-old baby during a New People’s Army ambush in Bukidnon as one of the major reasons that pushed him to shut the door to peace talks.

Aside from ending the negotiations, Duterte also declared the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA as a terrorist group and hds asked the justice department to file a petition with the appropriate regional trial court to formalize this.

It is not clear how his Tuesday remarks would affect these previous proclamations. – Rappler.com

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.