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Duterte wants peace panel out of talks between him, Sison

MLANG, COTABATO PROVINCE—President Rodrigo Duterte ranted again against communist rebels, calling their rebellion “nothing but plain banditry” but reiterating a desire to talk face-to-face with communist leader Jose Maria “Joma” Sison.

The rebels, who have been waging a largely agrarian insurgency, were “devoid of ideology,” said Duterte, who as mayor of Davao City, has had a close relationship with rebel leaders and had been instrumental in the release of New People’s Army captives.

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“There’s already nothing there. They’re just plain bandits, there’s no more ideology),” the President said at his visit to quake survivors here.

“They collect from farm enterprises, burn trucks. It doesn’t make sense,” he said, referring to revolutionary taxes being demanded by rebels from businesses in areas where the rebels operate and the punishment for those who refused to give.

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Rebels have been losing supporters because many have already surrendered, Duterte said, echoing military assessments.

Duterte, however, reiterated his desire for a face-to-face meeting in the Philippines with Sison, who is in self-exile in The Netherlands.

“We are trying to have a talk, but what I want and I’ve said this to Sison, you come home, and we will talk alone, just the two of us,” Duterte said. “I don’t want any panel,” he said.

He was referring to the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panel.

“I’m going to ask him, what do you really want? What do you want, you want to destroy a country? (Do) you really think you can destroy the Philippines? Excep that you’re bandits,” Duterte said.

The President said he had rendered the communist insurgency irrelevant with the distribution of some 180,000 hectares of land to farmers under the government’s agrarian reform program.

He also said more NPA members have been coming down the hills to surrender to the government.

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He also offered housing in condominium units to rebels who would surrender. He also offered sklls training programs and education.

Edited by TSB
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TAGS: communist, Insurgency, Peace Talks, rebels, Sison
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