President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said that he would resume talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as long as the New People’s Army (NPA) stops its series of attacks and collection of “revolutionary taxes.”
Referring to rebels as his friends, the President said he would be ready to subsidize the peace talks as long as they would agree to a ceasefire.
“You stop immediately. You and I ceasefire tayo. Wala ni isang putok, ni labintador [No single shot, not even firecracker] and I will be happy,” Duterte said in a speech during the inauguration of Lisap Bridge in Bongabong, Oriental Mindoro.
“Hintuan ninyo ang revolutionary government. Huwag na kayo magsunog in the name of taxation kasi kakaawa ang negosyante,” he added.[Stop the establishment of revolutionary government. Do not torch equipment in the name of taxation because businessmen suffer.]
The President said that the country’s development could not proceed if the rebels continue to “extort” from businesses.
His statement came days after the NPA burned P65-million worth of construction equipment in two far-flung villages in Davao City during the Holy Week, which also coincided with the NPA’s 49th founding anniversary.
Fidel Agcaoili, the chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front (NDF). said on Monday that the group would be willing to jumpstart the negotiations even without preconditions.
The talks bogged down late last year following continuous hostilities between the communits rebels and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which prompted Duterte to declare the CPP-NPA as terrorist groups.
Duterte said he would finance the peace talks, particularly the expenses of those involved in them, as long as they would declare a ceasefire.
Recognizing the rebels’ support to his presidential candidacy, Duterte said that he did not want any more killings and Filipinos fighting with each other.
He also said that he would be willing to join the political party the rebels would establish. /atm
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