'There will always be time for reckoning': Duterte junks peace talks with Reds

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 27 2020 10:40 PM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said he is closing his doors to peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

This came after the Chief Executive slammed the communist rebels for a series attacks carried out by their armed wing, the NPA, against government troops last week, while the country struggles with the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19 pandemic). 

Duterte warned that he will declare martial law if the NPA will not desist from their attacks.

“It is a sad thing to know na yung mga sundalo ko pinagpapatay while even doing the most honorable task of accompanying the government workers delivering money and food,” Duterte said in his speech in Malacanang. “I'm so sad about this development but there will always be time for reckoning.”

“There are no more peace talks to talk about. I will never be ready for any round of talks. The NPA, the Communist Party of the Philippines has no respect, either for the spoken words or in the deeds of killing soldiers who are in humanitarian missions,” Duterte said.

On Friday, Duterte warned he "might declare martial law" if communist rebels continue their attacks on state troops.

This, after clashes between government troops and suspected NPA rebels killed 3 soldiers in Negros Occidental earlier this month and 2 other soldiers helping distribute cash aid to poor residents in Aurora province last week. 

The government earlier declared a ceasefire against insurgents, which lapsed on April 15, while the CPP extended its truce until the end of the Luzon lockdown on April 30.

In December 2019, former chief negotiator and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the Philippine government might restart stalled peace talks with communist rebels next month after the 2 sides iron out several "goodwill measures."

Peace talks between the government and communist rebels deteriorated in 2017 due to alleged continuing rebel attacks on state troops. In November that year, the President signed a proclamation declaring the termination of peace negotiations.

A resumption of the peace talks was scheduled in late June 2018 but it was canceled as the government sought to review all agreements the communists signed with past administrations.

In December 2018, Duterte ordered the creation of a national task force to “end local communist armed conflict.”

The government also sought the declaration of the communist movement as a terrorist group.