Duterte trying to quell rumblings within military

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte allayed fears in the military over his efforts to kick-start peace talks with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic National Front (MILF) that are reportedly creating “rumblings” among the ranks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“I have heard that there are rumblings kasi (because) about natural enemy. Maraming ring patay (many were killed in the) military ‘di ba. And I told them that you know guys, I am a President, I am your commander-in-chief, that’s the title for war, unfortunately, I am not a wartime president,” Duterte said.

“My main job, my main task is really to seek peace for my land,” he added.

While he seeks peace with the Moro group, Duterte said he is not ready to talk peace with the extremist Abu Sayyaf.

The President rejected the recommendation of MNLF chairman Nur Misuari to include the Abu Sayyaf in the peace negotiations.

“And then Nur, the problem is Nur... hinihigop niya ‘yun isali na niya ‘yun (he wants to include the) Abu Sayyaf, which I would like to tell to the nation now: no. I will not talk peace with the Abu Sayyaf,” he said.

“Every time you do that it’s like slapping the nation. Hinihiya mo kami (you humiliate us). And you did it even during my time,” Duterte said.

The President slammed the Abu Sayyaf anew for the despicable acts, with its latest victim being a child.

“And the last time was just a child na hindi naman milyonaryo yun (who was not a millionaire). It’s not even audacious, I can describe – despicable. It’s really a despicable ideology. Hindi pwede ‘yan (That cannot be),” he said.

Peace talks with the communist

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who is also head of the government panel negotiating with communist rebels, claimed yesterday that the administration and the National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NDF-CPP-NPA) could sign a permanent ceasefire agreement within the next 60 days.

Bello also expressed optimism that the government and the NDF would finish the peace talks within nine to 12 months or by July next year.

Duterte hosted a dinner for communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon last night in Malacañang as part of his effort to talk peace with armed rebel groups.

He said leaders of the communist movement had invited him for a meeting to Davao but he chose to talk to them in Malacañang due to lack of time.

“This would really be the first time that the enemies of the state are here. It’s part of what you would call civility,” he said during the induction of officers of the Malacañang Press Corps, the Malacañang Cameramen Association and the Presidential Photojournalists Association.

“Just because we are in a war doesn’t mean to say that we have to be at war at all times. We can always talk and maybe, just maybe, it will bring peace to the land,” he added.

Benito Tiamzon is chairman of the CPP while his wife is secretary-general.

Formal negotiations between the government and the NDF, the political umbrella of the NPA-CPP, resumed last month in Oslo, Norway.

As a goodwill measure, the government released 22 communist personalities so they could participate in the negotiations.

Among those who were released were the Tiamzons, who were arrested in Cebu in 2014 on murder charges.

Bello said unlike in the past administration, the peace talks between the Duterte government and the NDF-CPP-NPA have been achieved “without fighting and walkout.”

“After two days, we achieved what we never imagined we could achieve. We agreed to a ceasefire, from seven days to an indefinite unilateral ceasefire. The ceasefire is holding, no reports of burning of equipment. Sooner or later, in 60 days, this unilateral indefinite ceasefire will become a joint-bilateral permanent ceasefire which will lead to the end of hostilities,” Bello said.

Bello said that in the past, the NDF-CPP-NPA never agreed to a ceasefire because they thought it was a capitulation.

“Now, they signed an indefinite unilateral ceasefire. They were enamored with President Duterte, especially when the President said he would order the release of NDF consultants –which he did. He said he would declare a general amnesty with the concurrence of Congress, of course,” Bello said.


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