'Give up arms and let's talk': Duterte to Reds

Ruth Abbey Gita
THE National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) has removed over 650,000 campaign materials all over Metro Manila.NCRPO Director Major General Guillermo Eleazar urged the candidates to also do their

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, April 16, offered anew to talk peace with the Communists and Jose Maria Sison on the condition that they give up their arms immediately.

Duterte made the pronouncement in a speech delivered in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan, as he raised the idea of declaring "immediate" ceasefire with the communist guerillas, on the condition that they would heed his preconditions for peace.

The President said he would be willing to announce truce, once the communists' armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA), yields their arms, and stops extortion and arson attacks.

"Kayong mga NPA, kung talagang gusto niyo ng usapang matino, immediate ceasefire, walang mag-dala ng armas sa kampo ninyo sa labas, walang taxation, walang pag-sunog (To the NPA, if you really want a genuine peace or immediate ceasefire, you should refrain from bringing your arms outside of your camp. You should also stop taxation and arson attacks)," he said.

"Iyan ang mahirap diyan. We cannot progress. I-hinto mo muna ang lahat. Umuwi ka dito Sison. Akong bahala sa'yo. Hindi ako traydor na tao. I'll give you my honor, word of honor. Mag-usap tayo," he added.

(That's the problem there. We cannot progress. Stop everything first. Sison, return home. I'll take care of you. I'm not a traitor. I'll give you my honor, word of honor. Let's talk.)

Duterte's remark came on the heels of his recent announcement that he might create a military-led panel that will negotiate with the communists.

On April 14, Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison did not buy Duterte's statement, saying the Chief Executive would merely create a "war panel."

Earlier Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President approved a national plan that seeks to address communism in the country, in a bid to pursue peace and order in the country.

The national plan was approved during Duterte's first meeting with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) held at Malacañan Palace on Monday, April 15.

However, Duterte's plan to create a new peace panel was not raised during his meeting with the NTF-ELCAC.

Duterte, in his latest remark, said he is open to possible resumption of talks with the communists, but made it clear that there would be no "coalition" with the communist movement.

"Pero (But the possible talks will have) nothing about coalition. You can never have even an iota of sovereign powers of the Republic of the Philippines," he said.

"I am not allowed to do that. Itong mga sundalo, mag-kudeta ito. Ako pa ang mamatay. (Soldiers might stage a coup d'etat if I do that. I'll die)," the President added. (SunStar Philippines)