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Saturday, March 23, 2019

Duterte to Sison: Give up armed struggle and I'll run for president

DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had a phone conversation with exiled Communist leader Jose Maria Sison Wednesday evening where he asked his former college professor to give up the armed struggle and in exchange he will run for president.

Sison called up Duterte who was then attending a dinner with top military officers in Davao Region.

In their conversation, Duterte asked Sison to abandon the "armed struggle" waged by the New People's Army (NPA) for over 40 years now and participate in democratic processes to achieve change in the country.

Former North Cotabato Governor Emmanuel Piñol who was with Duterte at that time said that the city mayor told Sison that "armed struggle as a means to achieve change is passé in the modern world we are living in today".

"Over 40 years of armed struggle and thousands of lives lost is too much to bear. In the modern world we live in today, you would look ridiculous carrying guns and hope to effect change in society through violence," Duterte told Sison.

"The armed struggle is simply misplaced idealism," he added.

Duterte said Sison was asking if the mayor have plans of going to Europe before the 2016 elections so they could discuss about his "presidential plans".

But the city mayor told the communist leader he has no travel plan to Europe and that the presidency is not being considered because of the difficult situation in the country today.

"The presidency is not an easy job. You have the secessionists in the Southern Philippines and you have the NPAs all over the country. Pero kung sabihin ng mga grupo ng rebelde na willing sila maki-pag-isa at i-give up ang armed struggle under my watch, I might consider," Duterte said.

Sison had previously issued a statement that Duterte is a presidential prospect who is more acceptable to the Left because he has an "open mind" on the issues behind their struggle.

Duterte, who admits publicly that he is ideologically left-leaning, told the Army generals and colonels who shared dinner table with him at a Davao City restaurant Wednesday night that the country should unite and address external problems.

Duterte's call on the communists to give up armed struggle and participate in the democratic processes to achieve change was received positively by the Armed Forces officers, many of whom have seen action against the communists.

Many of them have also lost foot soldiers and even young officers in the 40-year Communist insurgency which is considered as the "longest Communist revolution" in the world.

Duterte is known to have open lines with the NPA, which enabled him to secure the release of soldiers and policemen who were captured and held captive by the rebels.

The Davao City Mayor also communicates directly with fugitive Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) led by Murad Ebrahim.

Recently, Duterte allowed a public mourning for one of the most wanted communist rebel leader who was killed by the military in an encounter, Leoncio Pitao, alias Kumander Parago, whom he considered a friend.

"We cannot continue killing fellow Filipinos. We really have to get our acts together and heal the wounds of this country," Duterte said.
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