MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he is thinking of absorbing qualified members of the New People's Army (NPA) into the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as long as they surrender to the government.
"If you are concerned that you won't have jobs if you surrender, those NPA who are qualified, I will get you for the Armed Forces," Duterte said in a speech in Bisaya on Saturday, June 17.
"That is my deal for you. If your rank is corporal, your salary will still be corporal. You will be a part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines," he added.
Duterte made these remarks in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte, as he made his first public appearance in 5 days.
Duterte also urged Moro rebels: "If you don't have the energy anymore to keep roaming the mountains, come down, put down your arms."
The President further told rebels that if they surrender, he will give them "weapons to fight the enemies of the state."
The Philippine government earlier called off the latest round of peace talks with communist insurgents, after the parties failed to resolve a dispute over a rebel order for fighters to step up attacks.
The communist insurgency in the Philippines is one of the longest-running in the world, and has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives, according to the military.
Peace talks between communist rebels and the government have been conducted on and off for 30 years, and were revived after Duterte, a self-declared socialist, was elected president in 2016. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com