Duterte says peace with communist rebels may be realized ‘much earlier’
MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte is confident that attaining peace with communist rebels may happen “much earlier” as members of the rebel group continue to choose to return to the fold of society.
“With the rate that the NPAs (New People’s Army) are surrendering, I think we’d be able to realize peace much earlier. But the most important thing is to come up and comply with the promise to the rebels,” Duterte said Thursday in a speech before newly-appointed government officials.
The President was discussing housing benefits for soldiers in Mindanao when he suddenly made the pronouncement.
He recalled how he ordered the military to let rebel returnees take over housing units intended for them.
“Kaya sabi ko doon sa mga sundalo, bitawan na lang niyo. Umalis na lang kayo diyan. Ibigay na lang ninyo sa mga NPA,” he said.
(I told the soldiers to let go of the housing unit. Just let the surrenderees occupy it. Give it to the NPAs.)
The government has urged members of the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, to lay down their arms and take advantage of benefits it is offering for them to have a productive life with their family and loved ones.
In December last year, Duterte gave peace negotiations with the CPP leadership another shot, months since he officially slammed the door on the possible resumption of peace talks with the communist group.
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