President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he may consider resuming peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front if the rebels will declare a "ceasefire."
"As far as I’m concerned, no talks, no ceasefire. Work it out. If you can have it, fine, show it to me and maybe I will reconsider," Duterte said in a speech during the Go Negosyo 10th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit in Pasay City.
Duterte said he was asked by his chief peace negotiator, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, to tone down his rhetoric against the communist rebels whom he warned them last week to give up the armed struggle or risked being killed.
After the speech, the President was to meet the third batch of the 683 rebels who were presented to him in Davao City last December.
On February 21, Duterte welcomed 238 former rebels also in the presidential palace where he urged rebel returnees not to return to the hinterlands where they used to roam lest they be killed by their former comrades in the New People's Army.
Instead, Duterte suggested that the former NPA rebels enlist themselves as paramilitary members of the Citizens' Armed Geographical Units.
He said that the government was doing its best to address the root causes of the armed struggle such as lack of education, lack of job opportunities, and landlessness of farmers, among others.
Duterte earlier said he would consult the military before making a decision on returning to the peace negotiations with the communist rebels, which he scrapped last November, citing continued attacks by the rebels on government troops and civilians. —KBK, GMA News