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Duterte to CPP-NPA-NDF: ‘Best way is to talk again’

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he was still interested in pursuing peace talks with communist rebels even after he cancelled the ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army on Saturday.

"We are hoping that we can just talk. Maybe we did not understand each other," Duterte said in a short statement delivered before new appointed officials took oath inside Rizal Hall in Malacañang.

"Best way really is to talk again and maybe find out if it's reachable or beyond our reach," he added.

Duterte on Saturday lifted the ceasefire with the communists after their leaders failed to reciprocate the truce before his 5 p.m. deadline on Saturday.

The NPA also attacked militiamen in Davao del Norte on Wednesday, two days after Duterte announced his unilateral ceasefire. One CAFGU was killed while three others were hurt in the ambush.

"I hope we can proceed with the talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines," the President said.

Joma Sison

But in the briefing — the first one to be held in Malacañang — Duterte dismissed the statements of CPP and its founder, Jose Maria Sison, who incidentally was Duterte's teacher at the Lyceum of the Philippines.  

"Maniwala ka man sa kanila?" Duterte said. "They never even get to elect a leftist. Talo lagi."

Duterte also dismissed the CPP for saying that the lifting of the ceasefire preempted its move to declare a ceasefire 8 p.m. on Saturday.

"Hindi ko patulan iyan. I am not a psychological poltergeist. I am the President talking properly to you to have peace in this land. Hindi naman ako insecure. I got 16 million [votes]," he said. 


Duterte, however, remained coy if he is willing to put the ceasefire back on the table for confidence-building ahead of the peace talks with the communists on August 20.

"Kaya nga ako nagbigay ng ceasefire, di ba? Ako pa ang namatayan. Ngayon, ako ang kontrabida?" he asked.

He then later joked, "I will see if I will also be happy to reinstall the ceasefire, maybe Christmas time."

Political detainees

While he has misgivings in reinstalling the ceasefire with the Left, Duterte reaffirms that he is willing to release political detainees, especially those who will join the peace talks.

Asked if he is open to let CPP couple Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, the President said, "They will be released."

The Tiamzon couple were arrested in Cebu in 2014. They are considered to be consultants of the CPP.

Duterte also defended political prisoners and those in exile such as Sison in Norway and Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), saying that their fight was driven by ideology.

"So ang redeeming factor diyan is you rebel because you want a better setup or a better life for the people," Duterte said.

"Kaya nga ang punishment ng rebellion, mababa. Walang death penalty, I think it’s prision correccional to prision mayor.... The longest is 12 years and if 'yung mag-ano ka pa," he said.

"But all of these guys will have my... I’ll consider an amnesty kung magkausap tayo at we can agree to a peaceful co-existence. I will accommodate them," Duterte added.

Seeking peace

The President who is known to have friendly ties with the left reiterated to the press that he wants to attain peace during his term, but Duterte knows the limits.

"Look, I cannot stop talking about peace. I am a President who is supposed to bring peace to his land. Whether it’s really Sison or not, whether I’d like to talk to Sison or not, it’s not important, it’s not relevant at all," Duterte said.

"The issue is, the left, not only Sison, but that includes Sison, the left, the entire leftist community or bloc dito sa atin. We cannot agree on all of these things. Merong right, left, center," he added.

"I just believe that I have to look for that peace for my land during my generation. If I fail, mahirap na, including Mindanao," Duterte said.

However, Duterte admitted that the road to peace is not as smooth as they want it to be.

"But alam mo nakukunsumi na ako sa mga itong mga ito kaya dinadaan ko nalang sa pabiro-biro kasi mag-heart attack ako. 'Pag nagka-heart attack ako, mamatay na ako. Pagbintangan mo itong mga komunista," the President joked. —NB/KBK, GMA News