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Duterte says no to NDF’s demand for coalition gov’t

President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not give in to the demand of the communist rebels, who have been waging an armed struggle against the government for five decades. PCOO/Richard Madelo, File

MANILA, Philippines — The peace talks with communist rebels were terminated because of their “pure nonsense” demand for a coalition government, President Duterte said yesterday. 

Duterte said he would not give in to the demand of the communist rebels, who have been waging an armed struggle against the government for five decades. 

“I just signed (a) proclamation…terminating the talks in Norway between the Communist Party of the Philippines, NDF (National Democratic Front), NPA (New People’s Army) with the government. As it was shaping up during our talks, I already noticed the trend of the thoughts of the other side,” Duterte said in remarks to soldiers at the 67th anniversary celebration of the Army’s First Scout Ranger Regiment in San Miguel, Bulacan. 

“And when I sum it all, reading from all from previous working papers, it will sound like a coalition government. That is why I said in the previous days, I cannot give you what I do not own,” Duterte said.  

“And certainly, a coalition government with the Republic of the Philippines is pure nonsense,” he added.

Duterte graced the event in Bulacan where he was given an honorary Scout Ranger badge.

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Scout Ranger commander Brig. Gen. Rene Glen Paje led the awarding to Duterte who was dressed in military uniform and donning a black beret signifying his membership to the elite group.

Duterte however repeatedly expressed his opposition to a coalition government with leftists, insisting that he should retain control over the military and the police.  

On Thursday, Duterte issued Proclamation No. 360, declaring the termination of the peace negotiations with the communists. 

In the proclamation, Duterte said the CPP-NPA-NDF “failed to show its sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peace negotiation” when it engaged in acts of violence and hostilities that endangered the lives of innocent people. 

The proclamation also scrapped the negotiations with all adjuncts and organizational units of the communist movement. 

Duterte also ordered the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and the government negotiating panel to cancel all peace talks and meetings with their communist counterparts.

Proclamation No. 360 formalized Duterte’s previous pronouncements that he would no longer talk to the communists because of their atrocities against government forces and civilians. 

The President had said he would issue a proclamation reclassifying the CPP, NPA and NDF as terrorist groups. Proclamation No. 360 did not contain such provision.

Duterte, nevertheless, reiterated yesterday that he now views the communists as terrorists. 

“They are always drumbeating about war. I said, Why? If we have been fighting for 50 years this insurgency of the communists. You want to fight another 50 years? Fine,” he remarked. 

“Now, I will consider the movement of the Communist Party of the Philippines as a terrorist group.”

Duterte said he already did everything he could to reach out to the communists. 

“Let it not be said that I did not try to reach out to them. For after all, during the campaign, my promise to the people of the Philippines was that I would suppress corruption in government and I am hell-bent in doing it,” Duterte said. 

Surrender

 With the collapse of the peace talks, government forces are expected to run after communist leaders who acted as NDF negotiators and consultants.

The government has released about 40 communist leaders who are facing criminal charges to allow them to join the peace negotiations. 

“I am ordering those I have released temporarily to surrender or face again punitive actions. You have to go back where you belong,” Duterte said. 

“I released you because I thought it might help…then you are undercutting me before the eyes of the Filipino people, ah you must be joking. You must be joking because I will go after you. And I do not really care whatever happens thereafter,” he added. 

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the military is ready to deal with the communist rebels following the cancellation of the peace talks.

Padilla said the AFP had been given marching orders to run after communists and arrest the leaders of the various groups supporting the insurgents.

“The Armed Forces will continue to perform its mandate whether you categorize our movements as military operations or offensives, or what have you, they are part and parcel of our mandate,” Padilla said.

“People who are identified to have been supportive of the (underground) movement in terms of supplies, in terms of material tings or who bare arms, they can be arrested,” he added.

Padilla said all safe conduct passes issued to the rebel consultants are now deemed cancelled. 

These consultants are subject to arrest, to include those who were released from detention to participate in the peace talks, he said.

At least 17 of the rebel consultants were released from detention to participate in the moribund peace talks. Among them were top NPA leaders, Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma.

As per military’s rough estimate, the NPA has around 3,800 fighters across the country. They are mostly operating in Mindanao and in some parts of Luzon and the Visayas region.

Padilla said the military would be primarily going after the NPAs operating in Western and Eastern Mindanao.

The military said the NPA is now operating on 20 guerrilla fronts in the provinces of Bukidnon, Agusan, Surigao, Compostela Valley, and Davao. –Alexis Romero, Jaime Laude, Ramon Efren Lazaro

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