PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is not closing his doors on the possible reconciliation with the communists, even after he earlier said that his administration could not resolve the decades-long rift with them.
The President said he could give in to the demand of the communist party to grant amnesty for the hundreds of detained rebels facing various criminal charges, if they will heed his plea to achieve peace and order by coming up with a peace agreement.
“I’ll grant amnesty with the concurrent of Congress, if we are able to fix this. Perhaps, I think that, I said, with the help of God, I can, we can have peace with the communists in my time. Perhaps, it’s possible,” Duterte said in a speech delivered at the People’s Day in Oriental Mindoro.
“And this isn’t a wild guess but perhaps, I can achieve it. You see, we are talking with the NPAs (New People’s Army) so there’s no more killing,” he added.
The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), had lifted its unilateral ceasefire with the government last February 10, citing reasons that the current administration “has not complied with its obligation to amnesty and release all political prisoners.”
The communists have been pressuring Duterte to release 400 political prisoners but he said he could not easily grant this because releasing all of them needs contemplation.
The NPA also claimed that the government “had treacherously taken advantage of the unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire to encroach on the territory of the people’s democratic government.”
The NPA’s decision to end its truce with the Duterte administration had pushed the President to declare the termination of peace talks with the communists.
The peace negotiation was revived following a successful backchannel talks with government’s peace negotiators and communist leaders.
The CPP earlier announced that it would end of hostilities with the government before the end of March to pave way for the resumption of peace talks in the Netherlands on April 2 to 6.
Duterte likewise expressed willingness to declare interim ceasefire with the NPA, after saying earlier that he needs consultation first before announcing truce with the communists.
“Now, you want ceasefire. Fine. Let’s see who will declare first. Or simultaneous. Fine. I can take the extra mile. My job as a President is to seek peace for my land. It is not my duty, it is not even a part of the presidency to wage a war against its own people,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)