THERE will be no peace talks with the communist groups and the government will go to war against them the moment a landmine explodes in their areas of operation, President Rodrigo Duterte said in a dawn press conference when he visited the wake of slain soldiers at the Eastern Mindanao Naval Station in Camp Panacan, Sunday.

“Ang sabi ko, pag may magputok na landmine, I’m giving the ultimatum now, pag may marinig ako bukas na may namatay sa landmine, you can say goodbye to the peace talks. I will ready the AFP for another 45 years of fighting. Maraming pera ang gobyerno. Marami akong makuhang tao,” he said in response to a question raised by Mindanews editor-in-chief Carol Arguillas, who the President chided as an ally of the communists.

Duterte said that the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) can choose to fight if they so desire for as long as they do not use landmines.

He reminded the CPP-NPA-NDF that the use of landmines is not allowed under the Geneva Convention of which the Philippines is a signatory.

Duterte said that even when he was still the Davao City mayor, he has always been against the use of landmines because these do not just kill soldiers but their families as well, who usually would ride military vehicles on their way to the camp.

“I said now, tonight, this is an ultimatum. You can fight, we will fight. Maraming sundalong makati ang kamay,” he added.

Earlier, in his speech during his visit to the wake of soldiers slain in a gun battle with communist rebels in the region, he started this with an address to the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“I would like to talk to you about the rules of war. Kasi po if it is to your advantage, and I’ve been around in government for the last 40 years, you are the very first to cry foul when something goes wrong even in the handling of prisoners. Marami pong sundalo na dinemanda ninyo under the Geneva Convention in the handling of prisoners. But one of the important, and may be a very humane provision, iyang binabawal po iyong landmine. I cannot understand for the life of me that if it is to your advantage, you invoke the Geneva Convention provisions. And yet, time and again, I’ve been the mayor of the city, sinabi ko sa inyo, akala ko ba sumusunod tayo ng Geneva Convention? Or would you like that I would also order the Armed Forces na gamitin ninyo ang landmine pag kayo ang naka-posisyon at in-ambush ninyo – which is which?” he said.

He said that if the CPP-NPA-NDF insists on using landmines, then the Armed Forces of the Philippines can very well do the same.

“We’re having talks, you better decide now – tonight – nandito ako sa Davao ... Gagamit ba tayo ng landmine?  Kasi kung gagamit tayo I will order the Armed Forces to prepare the explosives also, iyong ordinance, para tabla. Eh bakit iyong sundalo lang ng gobyerno ang magdusa nito? Lahat tayo,” he said.

He then scolded the rebel leaders for harping on the sufferings of the people while refusing to give up the war, and thus, he said, the government can do that as well. Set aside budget for social welfare to continue the war with the communists.

“The Defense department is asking for 20 more thousand troops. Tiningnan ko iyong budget, wala akong pera.  Pero iyan ang gusto ninyo, ibigay ko sa Defense Department iyang gusto na additional 20, 000.  Huwag na iyong mga pagkain, iyang medisina – huwag na iyan. Dito muna sundalo kasi may giyera tayo, for peace. Ikansela mo iyan. We sacrifice the hungry and the poor para may panlaban tayo. Patayan. Iyan ang gusto ninyo, di sige. Hindi naman ako mahirap kausapin eh,” Duterte said in sarcasm.