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‘I will never agree to coalition government’

(The Philippine Star) - July 31, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – President Duterte will not agree to a coalition government with the communists, saying he has included in his administration people from the left and right sides of the political spectrum.

Duterte reassured military officers of his loyalty to the country’s Armed Forces, as he shared his experience in government service and how he rose from the ranks.

 With the peace talks set to begin on Aug. 20 in Oslo, Norway, the President promised the military leadership of an additional 10,000 soldiers by the end of the year, backed by a full budget. 

During a military briefing at Camp Nakar in Lucena City in Quezon province last week, Duterte said he wants to give communist insurgents a chance to mend relations with the government.

“I would like to assure everybody here that I will never, never agree to a coalition government. I am very emphatic that I can have an inclusive government. I have taken them in. I can shake hands and talk about peace,” Duterte said.

Aside from offering peace with the communists, Duterte has initiated talks with separatist groups Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front.

He was reported in December to have said that he was open to a coalition government with the left.

Addressing the military officers, Duterte said: “We are friends. You know that I am not a communist. But people, including the military, suspected that many years ago. I’m a Filipino, period. I love my country, period. I will work for my country, period. I will die for my country, period. I do not belong to anybody. No party or ideology owns me,” Duterte said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros urged the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) to lay down its arms and reciprocate the move of President Duterte for a unilateral ceasefire.

“At a time when it is easier to wage war than seek peace, President Duterte’s decision is a bold and unprecedented move. I hope the government’s ceasefire will be duly recognized and implemented by all state security forces,” Hontiveros said.

Duterte has given the CPP-NPA an ultimatum to explain the attack on government forces, who were observing a unilateral ceasefire.

The attack occurred last Wednesday in Davao del Norte and left a militiaman dead.

Hontiveros condemned the attack, saying the CPP-NPA should declare its own ceasefire as a gesture of good faith, now that the resumption of the peace talks is being explored.

“If the CPP-NPA is sincere in ending this armed conflict, it must renounce its anti-people military actions, silence its guns and choose the path of peace. It is the more courageous and revolutionary thing to do,” she said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the President should have imposed a deadline for the CPP-NPA to declare a ceasefire, before coming out with the order for a unilateral ceasefire during his State of the Nation Address.

Lacson said it was important for the communist insurgents to demonstrate good faith as part of the peace process.

He said the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front started off on the wrong foot in its talks with the government, when it immediately asked for the release of all political prisoners before returning to the peace process.

Mining plunder, militarization

Environmental activists wanted issues on mining, plunder and militarization in communities to be among the priority items in the coming peace talks between the government and the CPP-NDF.

The Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment urged both parties to work together and address the mining injustices that have been perpetrated against the people.

KPNE national coordinator Clemente Bautista said the issue of large-scale and foreign mining should be tackled in the proposed peace process.

Earlier, the group participated in the Human Chain for Peace, which marked the Global Day of Action Against Mega-Mining, an annual and internationally coordinated series of actions against large-scale mining.

The previous Aquino administration had come up with new policies and reaffirmed existing ones that further promoted mining plunder by foreigners and militarization of mine-affected areas.

The NDFP had been punishing large-scale mining operations that violated people’s rights and were destructive to environment.

The New People’s Army, NDFP‘s armed wing, raided mine sites in Mindanao in 2011. – Giovanni Nilles, Marvin Sy, Rhodina Villanueva

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