PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is not eager to terminate the government's unilateral ceasefire with the communist rebels, despite the New People Army's (NPA) decision to withdraw its unilateral truce with the state.
Speaking at the 38th National Convention of Philippine Association of Water Districts in Davao City, Duterte was still undecided whether he would also revoke the end of hostilities with the NPA.
"[The NPA] had withdrawn the ceasefire [with the government]. So am I supposed to do the same?... I will decide on the fullness of God's time," the President said.
Duterte said that the NPA lifted the truce just because his administration had failed to release about 400 political prisoners.
On Tuesday, NPA spokesman Jorge Madlos said the group terminated the unilateral declaration of ceasefire with the government because the latter "has not complied with its demand to release all political prisoners."
The President said he could not grant the groups' demand because the peace talks between the communist leaders and the government are still ongoing.
"Now, they want 400 (political detainees) release. My God, that is already releasing all. It seems like I have granted them amnesty, which is usually given after a successful [peace] negotiation… Four-hundred is 400. It is already as if the talks are over and there is a successful formula,” he said.
Duterte also explained that he has to be prudent in his decisions because he might draw the ire of the military, should he decide without careful deliberations.
“Do not put me into a tight situation because the military might not like it. And then when the military would oust me, would kill me, you have nobody talking to you,” Duterte said. “Now, if you ask too much, this is a country that is not authoritarian. I head the executive department but I consult people and the military, especially in these matters.” (SunStar Philippines)