MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he is no longer inclined to resume peace talks with communist rebels whom he branded as "terrorists" and "criminals."
Speaking to reporters in Davao City, Duterte said there is no point in talking with communist rebels if they think that he is a corrupt official.
"No, I am not anymore inclined to," the president said in response to a reporter's question.
"Kung corrupt ako, kung pasista ako, kung mamamatay-tao ako, kung DDS ako, why talk to me? Go find someone else," he added.
The president's recent statement is a sharp turn from his earlier pronouncements hinting at openness to resume talks with rebels.
Left-leaning groups had welcomed the electoral victory of Duterte, in hopes of pursuing talks with the government and instituting social reforms anchored on their ideologies.
Peace negotiations between the government and rebel sides, however, broke down earlier this year following a string of attacks against state troops allegedly committed by the New People's Army.
Duterte added that communist rebels would no longer be recognized by the government as "legitimate rebels" and would now be considered "criminals."
"I will be issuing a proclamation. I will be removing them from the category of a legal entity or at least a semi-movement which would merit our attention, placing them pareho sa Amerika--terrorist," he said. "I would consider them criminals already."
The president also blasted the NPA anew for carrying out an ambush in Talakad, Bukidnon that left a 4-month-old baby dead, saying it was an "intentional" act.
He, however, renewed his offer for the rebels to lay down their arms and surrender to the government instead.