Du30 on peace talks with Reds: We’re in the best position now
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said he was ready to talk peace with the communist rebels.
“I have been always ready to talk to the communists. We are in the best position now. There’s a window, it is not really very big. But there’s a window now for us to take stock of everything,” Mr. Duterte said.
The President said his administration was not fighting the communists now, as “they have declared a truce.”
“In return, I also ordered a ceasefire,” he said.
Mr. Duterte pointed out that he was the first to order a truce with the New People’s Army (NPA) “to show my good faith, that I heartily wanted to talk peace [with them].”
But he said a problem cropped up because even if he had declared a ceasefire, the NPA continued to attack and maim soldiers, and even civilians.
“That was why I lifted the ceasefire and told them to just fight if that was what they wanted to do,” he said.
Tired of fighting
But Mr. Duterte said he sensed that the rebels were also tired of fighting.
He said this was also the case with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“If we can give the MILF the territory it wanted, which I am inclined to give so that there will be no more trouble. Anyway, it’s a definite territory also for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. It stretches a little bit, [but] fine. We still have enough land in the entire Republic of the Philippines to make everybody happy,” he said.
Let Nur move around
Mr. Duterte said he still did not know what the MNLF wanted because he had yet to talk with Nur Misuari.
He asked the police and the military to allow Misuari to move around “if [he] comes out of his hiding place in Jolo.”
“My advice to the Army and the police is let him be. He is old and he would not run away,” he said.
Mr. Duterte said it was not advisable to arrest Misuari because if something happened to him in government custody, “we can kiss goodbye peace in that area.”
He said Misuari still had influence over the Moro people and the Tausugs.
As for the Abu Sayyaf, the President made it clear that it was pointless to talk peace with the bandit group.
He admitted, though, that he once admired the Abu Sayyaf, when it was still “fighting for freedom.”
“You in the Abu Sayyaf, I saluted you before, but when you began to slaughter people in front of the camera, and now you killed an innocent boy, you lost my respect,” Mr. Duterte said.
That is why, he said, he has ordered the military and the police to “destroy” the bandit group.
“There’s a segment of society, the Tausug, the Yakan, who want peace and here you are slaughtering people like chickens,” he added, citing the beheading of 18-year-old Patrick Almodovar on Tuesday.
Can finish Abu in 1 week
He said now that the Abu Sayyaf had lost his admiration and trust, he had ordered the military and the police to “destroy them because they are criminals.”
Mr. Duterte said it was pointless to talk with the Abu Sayyaf because “we will never have peace in that area even if you give them autonomy.”
“Kill them, destroy them,” he said, referring to his order to the military and the police.
The President said the government had all the resources to annihilate the Abu Sayyaf and finish the group in one week.