Duterte: Let’s resolve peace talks to fight single front vs terror
CAMP AQUINO, TARLAC CITY –The government needs to resolve its conflicts with communist rebels and Moro separatists so the Armed Forces of the Philippines can focus on a single front against terrorism, President Duterte told soldiers at the Northern Luzon Command here on Sunday.
“I know some resent [the revived peace talks with the New People’s Army]…I know it hurts some of you. But we have to end this war. This has been going on for 45 years… [Do we need] another 45 years?” Mr. Duterte said.
“Terrorism is coming our way whether we like it or not… Let us just concentrate on one front,” he said.
Citing the ongoing operation to oust ISIS from its occupied territories in the Middle East, Mr. Duterte said the terrorists may flee to Southeast Asia, including the Philippines.
“Not everyone in Mindanao is sympathetic with the government. The danger is they might… [be persuaded to join the terrorists],” he said.
He said he could not give a timetable to achieve peace in Mindanao where the military is fighting the extremists.
However, he said the ceasefire is holding between the government and communist rebels. Mr. Duterte and the National Democratic Front have imposed their unilateral ceasefire but have yet to agree on a more stable truce.
He said he was unhappy about the NDF pressure to release 130 political prisoners. “I previously said that was too much, too soon…I already released their leaders,” he said.
Mr. Duterte also said China was ready to send military hardware as part of a grant it had offered the Philippines. “China is pressing me [to receive] arms…They are impatient…so I will tell [Defense Secretary] Delfin [Lorenzana] to fly to China and fetch these equipment,” he said. The grant is payable in 25 years at least, he said. JE
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