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Duterte to Reds: Stop atrocities, we talk peace

The New People's Army should commit and honor a bilateral ceasefire with the government if it wants the cancelled peace talks to continue, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday.

In a speech, Duterte called on the communist rebels to stop committing atrocites and collecting "revolutionary taxes." 

He even offered to subsidize the peace talks and hinted at paying for the hotel accommodation of the rebels’ consultants, some of them facing arrest for various crimes.

"Kung gusto niyo talagang totohanan is you stop immediately. You and I ceasefire tayo. Ni walang isang putok, maski labintador and I would be happy," Duterte said at the opening of a bridge in Mindoro Oriental.

"I can subsidize your cost. Hindi naman kayo marami masyado. Palagay natin kung pagkain lang ang ano, I can take care of that," he added.

Over 60 lawmakers before the congressional recess called on Duterte to resume the peace talks with the communist rebels.

They said the government and the rebels' negotiating group National Democratic Front of the Philippines had reached "remarkable and unparalleled headway."

“Gusto kong magkaroon tayo [ng mapayapang] usapan. But along the way, maraming,  well, obstructions and everything but you must understand, hindi madali magpunta sa paratingan natin,” Duterte said.

“And so if we can have a middle ground, hindi ko naman sinasarahan lahat because hindi totoo ‘yang forever. Maski sa magkakasintahan, ngayon lang ‘yan. Bukas, ‘pag hawakan na ang kamay wala na,” he added.

Secretary Jesus Dureza, the presidential adviser on the peace process, has said that the presence of an "enabling environment" would be the "sole determining factor" for the resumption of the peace talks .

Duterte scrapped the negotiations in November, citing continued attacks by the rebels on government troops and civilians.

The government has also petitioned the court to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as terrorist groups. —NB, GMA News