MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he is confident that the communist insurgency will be over by next year.
Duterte cited the supposed continuing surrender of New People's Army rebels in various parts of the country as his reason for stating that the communist rebellion will soon be over.
“I think we are winning the war finally. Maraming front sa Mindanao, bumagsak na, especially on the right side, eastern,” Duterte told soldiers at Camp Melchor F. Dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela.
“I think that kung maawa ang Panginoong Diyos, this will be over by about the second quarter of next year. Ang rami na kasi nagsu-surrender.”
In his speech, Duterte also lauded the Army's Northern Luzon-based 5th Infantry Division for its “involvement and relentless efforts” in fighting threat groups.
“The presence of the NPA surrenderers is proof of the 5th ID’s achievements and collective resolve to restore peace in our land,” Duterte said.
“Because of your valiant efforts, we have convinced almost a hundred NPA surrenderes who decided to return to the fold of the law and we also successfully recovered 45 firearms.”
Hopes were high that the communist insurgency in the Philippines, one of the longest-running in Asia, will be over when Duterte assumed power.
Duterte said he had leftist leanings, having been mentored by communist leader Jose Maria Sison.
But ties between Duterte and the Left soured amid the continuous fighting between government troops and leftist rebels.
Duterte also dismissed the possibility of forging a coalition government with the communists, which he said was the end goal of the communist movement bent on toppling the government.
Peace talks were supposed to resume in late June this year, but the government decided to postpone it and opted to conduct more consultations with stakeholders.
The government also sought to just hold “localized peace talks” with communist rebels, a setup outrightly rejected by the Communist Party of the Philippines.