Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has said the first task of the country’s new president should be to end the 46-year-long communist insurgency.
Duterte earlier said he would first listen to the people before deciding to make a bid for Malacañang in the 2016 elections, He has also been quoted by other news sources as waiting for “Divine Intervention.”
If he became president, the mayor added, he would work on ending the bloody rebellion being waged by the Maoist New People’s Army (NPA), which has caused enormous suffering among Filipinos for decades.
Duterte made the statements in response to questions from reporters who covered a forum on federalism in Butuan City – the first leg of the “Listening Tour” that will bring him and his team to several key cities of the Philippines over the next several months.
“We cannot continue killing each other. We are all Filipinos,” he said, adding that he was willing to talk with National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) head Jose Maria Sison who he revealed was his former college professor.
The NDFP is an umbrella organization counting the Communist Party of the Philippines and the CPP’s armed wing–the NPA–as members.
In an earlier statement, Mayor Duterte said if he was elected as the country’s new president next year, he was willing to work with the Left, provided that they gave up their arms and renounced violence as means to achieve change in modern society.
“I am willing to allow them to handle agencies of government involved in social services and pro-poor programmes. But they have to come down and give up the rebellion,” he said of NPA guerrillas.
Duterte added that the strategy was expected to identify the real “rebels with a cause” from the plain extortionists who have been demanding money from businessmen and farmers in the country’s provincial regions.
“Those who will refuse to give up their arms after the group has been accommodated by the government will be pursued relentlessly and neutralised,” he said.
“We will have a fresh start. We should stop killing each other for after all, we are all Filipinos,” the mayor added.