DAVAO CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte again warned that no agreement with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front can be signed if the rebels continue killing soldiers despite peace negotiations.
President Duterte admitted telling Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the government chief negotiator to talks with the communists, to end the almost 50-year insurgency or face 50 more years of fighting.
The government and NDFP NDF panels are set to meet in Noordwijk in the Netherlands for the fifth round of talks on May 27 to June 1, during which they are expected to tackle the terms of a bilateral ceasefire and the socioeconomic reform agenda.
“I’m pissed off already because they have been attacking my — ‘my’ because I’m the commander-in-chief, so my — soldiers and my policemen,” he said during Friday’s opening of the four-day 25th Association of Firearms and Ammunition Dealers of the Philippines Defense and Sporting Arms Show at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City.
Duterte stressed he has to protect soldiers because he is the commander-in-chief.
And while he had been friendly to the NPA, he said there have been irreconcilable differences since he became president.
“Ngayon na presidente ako, siyempre iba na ang papel ko … (Now that I am President, of course, I have a different role). So unless they really stop killing my soldiers and policemen, there will be no peace in this land,” he said.
He said he was first to declare a unilateral ceasefire but accused the rebels of disrespecting this and killing soldiers.
“I am a president for peace. I am not a wartime president. My job is to bring peace to my country,” he stressed.