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Duterte wants to talk peace anew with Sison

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has changed his mind anew on peace talks with communist insurgents, telling exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chair Jose Maria Sison to come home for the negotiations.

“Stop everything, Sison, come home. I’ll look after you. I am not a traitor, I give you my word of honor. Let’s talk,” the President said on Tuesday night during the administration party’s campaign rally in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan province.

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The President made the invitation a few days after saying he intended to create a five-member peace panel composed of representatives from the military and civilian sectors.

No coalition government

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But the insurgents could not hope for the creation of a coalition government, he said.

“You can never have even an iota of the sovereign powers of the Republic of the Philippines. I am not allowed to do that,” he said.

The President has repeatedly changed his mind about pursuing peace talks with Sison, with whom he has publicly traded insults on several occasions.

In March this year, the President terminated peace talks with the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), citing alleged atrocities committed by the New People’s Army (NPA), the CPP’s armed wing, against soldiers and civilians.

Malacañang said the President’s change of heart was due to his openness to resuming peace talks with the NDFP.

But the President demanded that the NPA must first agree to a ceasefire and stop extortion before returning to the negotiation table.

Immediate ceasefire

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“You NPAs, if you really want a sincere talk, declare an immediate ceasefire. Don’t bring firearms outside your camps,” he said.

The President told the insurgents to kill corrupt government officials and employees instead of soldiers and policemen.

“The corrupt men manning the checkpoints, you go kill them … Not the innocents you get taxation money from. That’s why we can’t agree,” he said.

“If you do not stop collecting taxes, if you do not stop waging a war, you don’t want to declare a ceasefire … If you want to take it slow, then nothing. We have no agreement,” he said.

The President said NPA attacks were only derailing progress and development in Mindanao and discouraging investors.

“You [operate] there, and that is what makes it difficult. We cannot progress,” he said.

After terminating peace talks with the NDFP, the President ordered the holding of localized peace talks with the insurgents and formed a task force to organize the process.

But the CPP has rejected localized talks, saying the insurgency’s root causes should be addressed through socioeconomic reforms on a national level.

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TAGS: communist rebels, CPP, Joma Sison, Jose Maria Sison, NDFP, NPA, Peace Talks, Rodrigo Duterte
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