President Duterte has called on Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison to return home and resume peace negotiations within 60 days.
“I created a small window — 60 days,” he said. “My proposal to Sison, I will not go there. We’re fighting for the Philippines, so you come here.” The president was speaking at the National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines Annual Convention in Legazpi City on Saturday (April 21).
Sison went into exile in the Netherlands after the two-decade regime of former president Ferdinand Marcos ended in 1986.
Recently, Sison expressed openness and readiness to resume peace negotiations, which Duterte cancelled last November due to a series of attacks launched by the New People’s Army on civilians and government troops.
Now, the president has said he is ready to give the communists another chance to resume talks.
The president said the National Democratic Front-CPP-NPA could set up a camp where he could talk to them “minus arms”.
“I will pay for your fare, billeting and food. And your guerrilla front, you stay in one place, set up a camp. Bring your arms inside the camp, you tell us where you are, you can go out of the camp, minus the arms,” he said.
Duterte said he would give Sison the complete freedom to move, adding that he would order the military and the police to “be nice to you”.
“Take advantage of that 60 days. If it succeeds, then I would like to thank God first and the Filipino people and the military and the police for their understanding,” he said.
The Commander-in-Chief said he could not fight with communist rebels forever, “same with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front”.
“But the threat of terrorism remains very high. We are not fighting against our Moro brothers and sisters,” Duterte, who traced his Maranao roots from his grandmother, said.
“You know, if you can do it, whatever it is, I can do it better, 100 times better than what you can do. So let us respect each other. Anyway, civilians are not part of the fight. But once you start to mess up with…. I will not back out,” he added.
Duterte said his administration was “well on its way” towards eliminating the social ills that prevent the country’s march toward progress.
“I seek your proactive participation in nation-building by upholding peace and order, preserving national security and eliminating misfits in our society,” he said.
“Remember that your greater participation in our fight against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption is crucial to our goal of uplifting the lives of the Filipino people.”