MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte said one of the reasons peace talks between the government and the communist rebels collapsed is the latter’s goal to form a coalition government with his administration.
Duterte on Thursday signed Proclamation No. 360 formally terminating peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) of the Philippines, following continued attacks by the New People’s Army (NDF) on state troops.
The President hinted one of the reasons that prompted him to terminate the talks is the supposed inclination of the communist rebels to become part of a coalition government.
“As it was shaping up during our talks, I already noticed the trend of the thoughts of the other side and when I summed it all, reading from all previous working papers, it would sound like a coalition government,” Duterte said in a speech in Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan.
“That is why I said in the previous days, I cannot give you what I don’t own and certainly a coalition with the Republic of the Philippines is pure nonsense.”
Duterte, a former student of Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, had sought to end the nearly 50-year communist insurgency early in his term, even appointing leftists to his Cabinet as a demonstration of the two sides' warming ties.
“I said, well let it not be said I did not try to reach out to them, for after all, during the campaign, my promise to the people of the Philippines was that I would suppress corruption in government and I’m hell bent on doing it,” he said.
Government officials and NDFP negotiators had 4 rounds of talks in Europe, where Sison is based, before Duterte suspended the negotiations last May.
The talks were stalled following armed clashes between government troops and communist guerrillas.
Duterte's anger against the communists was reignited following the death of a 4-month-old girl who was hit by stray bullet in a rebel ambush in Bukidnon earlier this month.
In terminating the peace talks, Duterte also threatened to declare the communist rebels as terrorists.
He also threatened to order the arrest of members of communist “legal fronts" which are pursuing parliamentary struggles.
The President also again ordered the arrest of communist leaders who were released from detention for the peace talks.
“I will go after you and I don’t really care whatever happens thereafter,” he said.