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No more talks if NPA continues extortion —Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday he would never consider returning to the peace negotiating table if the communist rebels would not stop their alleged extortion activities.

Duterte, in particular, slammed the rebels’ collection of revolutionary tax and permit to campaign fees from politicians during the election season. 

The President previously called on the rebels to give up their arms and cooperate with the government’s land reform program, prompting Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison to think that Duterte “must be crazy or clowning in reiterating the preconditions he made so many times before.”

“If there is nothing that happens on these demands, I think that’s the end of it. I will not talk anymore. They will have to deal with the next president, not me,” the President said during the National Peace and Order Council meeting in Davao City.

He also revealed that he will reconstitute the government’s negotiating panel chaired by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

“I will reconstitute the panel, this time it will have a military and police component and civilians, mga professor,” he said.

Apart from Bello, the other members of the panel are former Pangasinan congressman Hernani Braganza, former Commission on Elections commissioner Rene Sarmiento, human rights lawyer Angela Librado-Trinidad and former state prosecutor Antonio Biñas Arellano.

Peace negotiations between the government and communist rebels bogged down in November 2017 after Duterte lamented the continued attacks by the rebels on troops and civilians.

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

Last September, Duterte told troops in Isabela that the communist insurgency may be over by the second quarter of 2019, pointing to the continued surrender of New People's Army members and fall of several guerilla fronts in Mindanao as indicators.

Sison scoffed at Duterte's claim and said the President was delusional. —NB, GMA News