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Duterte to Joma Sison: Give me reason to return to negotiating table

President Rodrigo Duterte has challenged Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison to convince him to resume the peace negotiations aimed at ending one of Asia’s longest insurgencies.

“Jose Maria Sison give me a good reason to go back to the bargaining table. If there is none or if it’s just a repeat of what we have discussed earlier then that will not suffice,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City on Sunday.

Duterte then repeated his call for communist rebels to abandon the armed struggle, calling it “useless.”

“Iwanan ninyo ‘yan, walang kuwenta ‘yan, wala kayong makuha. Lalaki kayo’t ililibing kayo diyan sa gubat,” he said.

Duterte and Sison have traded barbs since peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels bogged down in November last year after the President lamented the continued attacks by the rebels on troops and civilians.

The talks were supposed to resume in June in Norway but Duterte called it off to give way to public consultations and review of existing agreements.

Last month, Duterte told troops in Isabela that the communist insurgency may be over by the second quarter of next year, pointing to the continued surrender of New People’s Army members and the fall of several guerilla fronts in Mindanao as indicators.

Malacañang had said the government remains open to peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the political arm of the CPP, subject to certain conditions set by Duterte.

Duterte wanted the talks in the Philippines and communist insurgents had to stop collecting their revolutionary taxes.

He also wanted hostilities against government forces stopped, with NPA fighters "encamped” and no demand for a coalition government.

The government also said it would push for localized peace talks with communist rebels, a plan rejected by the CPP. — RSJ, GMA News