MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, April 27, turned down any possibility of pursuing peace talks with the Left following reports of soldiers who were killed in a recent clash with New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.
“It’s a sad thing to know that mga sundalo ko pinapapatay (that my soldiers are being killed) even when doing the most honorable work of accompanying government workers delivering money and food,” Duterte said in an address as he updated the nation on the government’s latest response to the coronavirus outbreak.
“I’m sad about this, but there’s always a time for reckoning. There’s no more peace talks to talk about. I will not and never be ready for any round of talks,” he added.
The President took this position days after he launched a fresh round of tirades against the NPA and again warned he would declare martial law – a threat he has made several times since the start of the pandemic.
Durterte earlier cited an alleged ambush that killed two soldiers in Aurora province last April 21, as they were assisting in the distribution of social welfare subsidies.
The President had said before that he “believed” the military’s reasons for rejecting a proposal for the resumption of peace talks sent some time between late 2019 to early 2020.
The President’s reversal on peace talks came months after he sent Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to the Netherlands to talk to exiled communist rebel leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison in one last bid to revive peace negotiations.
At the time, Duterte said it was his “last card” in brokering peace with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the NPA, after formally ending the government’s peace talks with the Left in November 2017.
While both sides declared a ceasefire in December to make way for formal negotiations, any possibility of talks bogged down after Duterte and Sison could not agree on a venue.
Duterte had insisted it should be in the Philippines, while Sison said it should be anywhere but in the country, fearing he would be arrested when he lands home. – Rappler.com