MANILA, Philippines – A day after he formally terminated talks with communists, President Rodrigo Duterte called on National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants who were granted temporary liberty to join peace negotiations, to "surrender."
"I am ordering those I have released temporarily to surrender or face again punitive actions. You have to go back to where you belong," he said on Friday, November 24.
Duterte made the call in a speech before the First Scout Ranger Regiment in Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan.
In August 2016, the President had ordered government lawyers to work on securing the temporary release of around 20 political prisoners identified as consultants of the NDF, political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
In his Friday speech, Duterte also told soldiers to brace for more attacks by the New People's Army, the armed wing of the CPP.
"There will be virulent confrontations with the NPA. Be prepared for that," said the armed forces' Commander-in-Chief.
No to coalition government
Duterte also said that one of the reasons he decided to formally end talks with communists was because it sounded like they were pushing for a coalition government.
"As it was shaping up during our talks, I already noticed the trend of the thoughts of the other side. And when I sum it all, reading from all from previous working papers, it will sound like a coalition government," Duterte told soldiers.
He dismissed the supposed proposal "pure nonsense."
"Certainly, a coalition government with the Republic of the Philippines is pure nonsense," said Duterte.
A coalition government is a governing body formed by multiple parties because one party cannot form a majority.
Duterte was referring to this supposed demand of communists that he could not give in to as he had no power to do so. "That is why I said in the previous days, I cannot give you what I do not own," he said.
On Thursday, Duterte signed Proclamation No 360, formally terminating the government's talks with the left. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.