MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said he was "not so keen” on accepting the communist group's offer to fight Islamist militants in the country as government troops continued to pursue terrorists in Marawi City.
This after the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) expressed its commitment to send New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas to fight Islamic State-inspired militants in the country.
But the president said this may not be a good idea.
“I don’t know, but I’m not so keen about it. Anyway, it’s a show of goodwill,” Duterte said in a speech in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.
Duterte said, the communists may have realized that they could be rendered irrelevant if the ISIS-inspired militants prevailed in parts of the country.
“They have offered to fight alongside with us against terrorism. Maybe they realized na kung manalo ang- we are overwhelmed at manalo- the ISIS will prevail in Mindanao or even a part of Mindanao, wala silang kasali sa gobyerno,” Duterte said.
“The ISIS will never allow anybody to have in their company a group of persons which have... iba ‘yung ideolohiya.”
The President's latest pronouncement comes just days after he called on the New People's Army and Moro rebels to help in the fight against extremism.
His decision to turn down the NDFP’s offer also comes in the wake of the government’s decision to suspend its talks with the communist movement.
Duterte also reiterated his position that the communist rebels must first issue a ceasefire document before the two sides could resume talks.
The President placed Mindanao under martial law after government troops clashed with local terror groups Maute and Abu Sayyaf in Marawi City on May 23.
The clashes erupted as state forces were trying to arrest top Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, considered the Islamic State’s point man in Southeast Asia.
On Friday, the military said the death toll has reached 175, among them 120 terrorists, 36 government troops and 19 civilians.