MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday rejected the suggestion of his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte to reconsider peace negotiations with communist rebels.
The mayor earlier this month said there was no indication that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was willing to talk peacefully so the government should instead "crush their influence."
The President said he will talk to the mayor before reopening negotiations with the CPP, led by its founding chairman Jose Maria Sison.
"Kami muna [ni Sara] ang mag-peace talks, ta's si Sison," the elder Duterte said in a speech in Davao City.
"I cannot fight forever with my own countrymen," he added.
Duterte, who was Sison's student at a Manila university in the 1960s, earlier promised to end the decades-old communist rebellion. The President, however, abandoned peace efforts in November, complaining of repeated rebel attacks.
The Department of Justice, meanwhile, lodged a petition to cite the CPP and its armed wing, New People’s Army, as terrorist organizations.
But earlier this month, Duterte ordered his Cabinet to work on a truce to enable reviving peace talks. The communist rebels, however, rejected any preconditions.
Duterte on Saturday urged Sison anew to come home to the negotiating table.
He also said the communist armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), can join the talks, but must be unarmed.
"Iyung mga NPAs, come down, stay there in a camp of your choice, maski na iyung plaza [kung] gusto nila. Huwag lang kayong magdala ng armas sa labas," he said.
(The NPAs can come down, stay in a camp of your chace, even in the plaza. Just don't bring arms.)
"Until such time that we are able to perfect an agreement, keep your firearms in the camp and do not go out of the camp bringing guns... Then we talk."
The President, however, said he will "not yet" drop the government's bid to tag the CPP and NPA as terrorists.
Sison had said the rebels will "gladly" enter a ceasefire agreement so peace talks could resume if "what was promised since a long time ago by President Duterte -- the amnesty and release of the political prisoners -- is fulfilled."
Numerous peace talks between the government and the communists have been launched since 1986 but never made much headway.
The communist insurgency has stunted economic development in several resource-rich provinces, just as Moro separatist rebellions have plagued large parts of the south of the Catholic-majority country.
With a report from Reuters