By Roy Ramos
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines
Barely a month after he ordered the suspension of the peace talks, President Rodrigo Duterte over the weekend bared his intention to resume negotiations with the communist rebels.
During a visit at a military camp in Misamis Oriental to pay last respects to two soldiers slain in skirmishes with communist rebels last Friday, Duterte said he wants new talks with the rebels but set out conditions for it to materialize: release all police and military hostages, stop collecting the so-called revolutionary tax and stop making other favors.
“They have to release all policemen, army, everyone from the government. They should release them all. Second, they should stop asking for revolutionary tax. Third, they should stop asking for things. They’re burning a lot of things now and we’ll never meet each other halfway if that’s the case,” he said.
“Me, I’m in the government and I have a job to do. Please understand that. It pains me to see Filipinos fighting against fellow Filipinos. I just want peace,” the President said.
“I’m open to talk to the rebels, just not the killers. I’m ready to talk and I’m ready to stop this war. I would prefer for us to not have war, but we need to talk from the heart. I’m ready as long as we communicate well. I’m ready to resume the cease-fire again, but this time I want it to be sincere. Back then, there was a cease-fire but my soldiers were killed. That’s so difficult,” Duterte pointed out.
The peace negotiations with the communist rebels were suspended last February after NPA rebels continued attacking soldiers while talks were ongoing in Oslo, Norway.
“Cease-fire here and there, and my soldiers are getting killed – one shot 73 times, 73 wounds. That’s what really made me feel bad,” he said.
“How can you do that to a Filipino?” “For me, no one will win. If we Filipinos fight against fellow Filipinos, nobody wins. The nation, the Philippines loses, but I’m ready for different kinds of talks. I’m ready to resume the cease-fire again as long as it is working towards peace. I do not want war. It’s a waste of money. Instead of bullets I can buy machines and give it to help others,” he added.
The President said he felt frustrated by the rebels’ seeming disregard for the peace process with their incessant attacks on government forces.
He said deep anger may have triggered such atrocity. “You know it indicates anger. If you’re like that, full of hate, then we cannot talk about peace. There is hate deep inside. How can it be possible to talk if there is hatred in your heart? Just one bullet,” he stressed.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.