MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he will consult with the military and the police regarding the appropriate response to the communist rebels’ announcement declaring a unilateral ceasefire before the end of the month.
Speaking to reporters in Bukidnon, Duterte said he does not have absolute decision-making powers and would get the opinion of law enforcement agencies and security officials.
He said he will convene the National Security Council and conduct consultations with House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Koko Pimentel.
“I have to convene the National Security Council and I have to ask the generals of the army and the police,” he said.
Duterte is concerned that the rebels won't adhere to the ceasefire, recalling the time when New People’s Army rebels attacked soldiers prior to the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire.
“Kapag ganon hindi naman sila sumusunod . . . magkakaroon ng aberration in the system of talking about peace,” he said.
The president added that he also rejects territorial claims of the communists saying the whole country belongs to the republic.
Earlier, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said it will declare an interim ceasefire by March 31, in anticipation of the fourth round of peace talks next month.
The announcement came after the release of two militiamen by the New People's Army in Mati City, Davao Oriental.
In a statement on Saturday, the CPP said the declaration of an interim ceasefire is also meant to show support for the talks between the National Democratic Front (NDFP) and the government scheduled on April 2 to 6 in the Netherlands.