PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, December 6, revealed his intent to order the "mass arrest" of communist leaders who were granted temporary liberty to allow their participation in the peace negotiations.
With the cancellation of the peace talks and the designation of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People's Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations, Duterte said he has no choice but to order the arrest of the leaders.
"To the NPA, NDF (National Democratic Front), CPP, we should expect a longer war of a treason here. But it will be done during my term, I will be happy. I am not talking to them anymore," the President said in the oath-taking of newly-appointed generals and flag officers held at Palace's Rizal Hall.
"For those who are out temporarily, you just maybe zero in now because any day, I will order for their mass arrest. I have no choice. That's what you want. You demanded. I gave too much too soon. I know the police and the military had sentiments about my decision, you know, I released almost about 32," he added.
Duterte signed Proclamation 374 on Tuesday, December 5, declaring the CPP and NPA as "terrorist" organizations under Republic Act 10168, otherwise known as "The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012." The National Democratic Front of the Philippines, political arm of the CPP, is not covered by the proclamation.
Duterte first ordered the temporary release of some detained communist leaders in July last year to pave the way for the resumption of peace talks between the current administration and the communist group.
Amid the ongoing talks, Duterte had twice ordered the suspension of talks following the series of attacks of NPA members against the police and the military.
On November 23, the President signed Proclamation 360 to formally end the negotiations.
The President lamented that the peace talks were stymied because the "enemies of the state," apparently referring to the communists, lacked sincerity in achieving peace and order in the country.
Duterte said that if the communist insurgents want to fight the government, the Philippine troops are also ready to engaged in war against them.
"I will make this country prosperous by talking to the enemies of the state. Problem is they don't like it," he said.
"One day, I will just hope you're arrested. You want to fight the country, create a revolution, fine. We've been fighting you for 50 years and we will fight again for another 50 years. That's what you want. I just have to prepare the country for such eventuality," Duterte added.
But while Duterte said his government is ready for a battle against the communists, he hinted that there might still be a possibility of revival of peace talks.
Duterte, however, emphasized that he needs to "bide time" for now.
He also stressed that he would have to consult the police and the military, should the peace dialogue between the government and the communists resume.
"If you'd notice that on the newspaper, they are the ones demanding the resumption of the talks and it says a lot. It says a lot that they want to resume the talks. So what would be the reason? Well, I will not speculate. I will not insult them," Duterte said.
"But I'll just keep saying that I will bide my time. Maybe, in the fullness of God's time, there will be a moment where we would all thank the military and the police and you will be consulted all the way. And I will never make a single decision that comes from me. It has to be consensus," he added. (SunStar Philippines)