MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday again slammed the Left following the collapse of the peace negotiations, saying youth members of left-leaning groups are better off pursuing other ideologies.
“Most of the left movement, mga bata, nagpakamatay for the belief, for the ideals, for the ideologues na wala naman talagang ma-contribute,” Duterte said in a speech in Pampanga.
He made the statement days after a student activist from the University of the Philippines was killed along with 14 others in an encounter between state troops and communist rebels in Nasugbu, Batangas amid escalating tensions between the two sides.
The President said youth members of leftist groups should realize that “it's too late in the day to introduce even the simplest form of socialism,” since “Filipinos will never be ready for it.”
Duterte in November terminated government’s peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), citing continued attacks of its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), against state troops.
The President earlier this week declared the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA as terror organizations, further dimming hopes that the peace talks could still be salvaged.
Duterte also ordered the “mass arrest” of some 20 NDFP consultants, including CPP leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon. The two were granted conditional release so they could participate in the peace talks, which were revived when the President, a self-proclaimed socialist, came to power.
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.
As a long-time Davao City mayor, he was close to the leftist movement. But, when he became President, he said he realized that he cannot concede the country’s sovereignty to the communists, who he said is seeking to establish a coalition government with his administration.
Since the collapse of the talks, major skirmishes have occurred between state forces and suspected NPA members.
With Duterte abandoning the peace table, there have been fears of mass arrests and increased killings of left-leaning activists.
Human rights group Karapatan has also decried killings of activists since the collapse of the peace talks and the declaration of the CPP-NPA as a terror group.
The President recently ordered the military and police to shoot armed NPA rebels on sight.