MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday reiterated his call for the New People's Army (NPA) to stop using landmines or he will scrap peace talks with the communist rebels.
Speaking in front of government troops in Camp General Vicente Lukban in Catbalogan, Samar, Duterte criticized the Communist Party of the Philippines' armed wing for using landmines, while invoking the Geneva Convention to their benefit.
"Sabi ko nga, and I'd like to repeat the statement. When it is to your favor, you want the Geneva Convention. When it is not, then you invoke on it. Mahuli kayo, then you file cases against the soldiers. And yet 'yung truck na pabalik ng kampo, may mga sibilyan nakisakay, or the family of the soldier, binibira niyo ng landmine," he said.
The President warned that he will set aside peace talks if he learns about another landmine attack against government troops.
"I am just giving you, I will not plead for it because I am the President. I'll just state directly. We want peace. Lahat kayo, pamilya ninyo. But do you not use that landmine. 'Pag may narinig ako na isang putok, goodbye 'yan (peace talks). At kayong peace panel, umuwi na kayo dito. 'Wag niyong sayangin, waste your money there. Talk nonsense. Hindi ako nagwa-warning, I'm not giving you an ultimatum, even," Duterte said.
"I'm just saying na kung puputok ulit ang land mine, which is prohibited by the Geneva Convention, I will forego with the peace talks, and forget about it," he added.
The President earlier said the rebels couldn't hold the military accountable for alleged war crimes if the NPA continues to use landmines.
Duterte revoked a unilateral ceasefire with the NPA last week after the insurgents failed to reciprocate within his 24-hour deadline that ended on July 30.
The National Democratic Front (NDF), on the other hand, claimed that the use of "command-detonated" landmines by the NPA does not violate the Geneva Convention.
The CPP has also rejected the "ultimatum" set by Duterte, calling it a "poorly-crafted deflectionary tactic."
The CPP accused Duterte of becoming "militarized," and "obsessed with ending the armed revolution through suppression."
"He is showing himself to be more and more cantankerous, inventing one reason after another to attack the CPP and NPA instead of finding ways to push forward peace negotiations," the CPP said.
The CPP urged the Duterte administration to fulfill its promise and immediately release all 22 NDF consultants and around 550 alleged political prisoners.
"The CPP and all revolutionary forces are ever ready to work with the Duterte regime to actively pursue talks to resolve the roots of the armed conflict through negotiations. The CPP, however, is not one to back down from threats of war by Duterte. Waging people's war has always been the path to strengthen the revolution and accumulate victories," the CPP said.