MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday warned communist leaders abroad of arrest, in yet another sign of the wavering ties between the two sides.
“I’m warning the leaders who are taking to representatives of my government. Do not attempt to come home. I will arrest all of you and throw you to the slammer,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City.
The President issued the warning in the wake of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) criticism against his decision to place the entire Mindanao under martial law following the terrorist siege in Marawi City.
The CPP said it will heavily oppose martial rule and ordered its military wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to ramp up its operations and intensify its recruitment.
The communist group’s call did not sit well with the government peace panel, led by Silvestre Bello III.
Bello said, the group’s reaction was misplaced as Duterte had made it clear that he was not going after the communists and the government remains committed to pursuing peace with them.
This development also prompted the government peace panel to suspend its 5th round of talks with the communist leader in The Netherlands.
Jose Maria Sison, National Democratic Front’s chief political consultant, had already asked the CPP to reconsider its call.
This, however, still did not prevent Duterte from slamming the CPP founder and the rest of the communist leaders.
The President said, the communist rebels may even soon be rendered irrelevant because of the growing threat from the terrorists who were inspired by the Islamic State.
“For all the bravado, they never occupied even a barangay for 24 hours yet in the talks, it’s all full of hubris. Kung manalo ba ang ISIS sa Pilipinas, may papel ba kayo sa mundong ito? You will be marginalized and outcast because your form of government is always anathema to the rest of the religion zealots in this world," he said.
“Kayong mga komunista, you are just wasting your time. You cannot prevail over government of the Republic of the Philippines. Neither can you find a sanctuary under a communist rule,” he added.
The President issued the warning even if he called on the NPA just last Saturday to join government forces in fighting terrorist groups currently rampaging in Marawi City. Leftist groups had welcomed Duterte’s call.
National Democratic Front (NDF) senior adviser Luis Jalandoni said, “the CPP-NPA would be together with the Duterte government in opposing the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf.”
Duterte had earlier ordered the release of several communist leaders so they can participate in the peace negotiations. However, the talks have been hampered several times due to persistent clashes between government troops and NPA rebels.