Duterte to Joma: I’ll run if NPA yields arms
DAVAO CITY—Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was in a meeting on Wednesday with ranking military officials in Southern Mindanao when he got a call from communist party founder Jose Ma. Sison.
Duterte took the call and recalled telling Sison to give up the armed struggle and he would consider running for president.
According to Duterte, he was at dinner with the ranking military officials when his phone rang and Sison was on the other line.
Sison, according to Duterte, wanted to know what the mayor’s plans were for 2016 amid talk that he is definitely running for president.
Duterte’s survey numbers are rising.
Duterte recalled the conversation with Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines that continues to wage a protracted war against the government.
Sison, according to Duterte, was inquiring if the mayor had plans to travel to Europe and that, if he did, to come visit the communist leader.
Duterte recalled telling Sison that he did not have plans, yet, of running for president.
“The presidency is not an easy job. You have the secessionists in the southern Philippines and you have the NPAs all over the country,” Duterte recalled telling Sison over the phone and in the presence of the generals.
Duterte said he asked Sison to abandon the armed struggle and join the democratic process instead and use it to fight for the change the communists had been pushing for.
“Armed struggle as a means to achieve change is passe in the modern world we are living in today,” Duterte said, adding that the “over 40 years of armed struggle and thousands of lives lost is too much to bear.”
He said he also told Sison that those trying to effect change in society through violent means end up being ridiculed.
“The armed struggle is simply a misplaced idealism,” Duterte recounted telling Sison.
As to his continued rejection of calls for him to run for president, Duterte said he might reconsider his decision if the National People’s Army (NPA) gives up its armed struggle.
“If the rebels will say they will be ready to unite with me and give up the armed struggle under my watch, I might consider (running),” said Duterte.
Duterte has been known to have direct contact with communist leaders, admitting that some of them are his friends.
But he said while he respected the communist ideology, he would never agree to the rebels’ means of pushing for the establishment of a Maoist government.
“I believe that they (the NPAs) are fighting for a cause but armed struggle is not the way,” Duterte said.
Sison had previously said that Duterte is more acceptable to the Left than the other presumptive presidential candidates because he has an “open mind” on the communist struggle.
“We cannot continue killing fellow Filipinos. We really have to get our acts together and heal the wounds of this country,” Duterte said. Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao
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