JOINT STATEMENT SIGNING. Members and officials of the government panel and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines sign the joint agreement for the second round of talks. The peace talks was facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government. In photos: Fidel Agcaoili, chief negotiator of the NDF peace panel; Jose Maria Sison, chief political consultant of the NDF; Elisabeth Slattum, special envoy for peace of the RNG, Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Peace Adviser, and Secretary Silvestre Bello III, GRP panel head. (Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano/

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A month after he announced the termination of the government’s unilateral ceasefire, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his openness to resume talks and declare a ceasefire anew.

In an interview with the local media in Cagayan de Oro City Friday, March 3, Duterte said he is ready to talk with the rebels and said he prefers not to have war.

“Andam ko makigstorya sa mga rebelde. Ayaw lang nang mga killer, kanang mga… Andam ko makigstorya. Andam pud ko na muundang ta ug giyera. Mas gusto nako wala tay gyera. Pero kinahanglan magstorya tag kinasingkasing permero,” Duterte said.

(I’m open to talk to the rebels, just not the killers. I’m ready to talk and I’m ready to stop this war. I would prefer for us to not have war, but we need to talk from the heart.)

Duterte lifted the government’s unilateral ceasefire on February 3, two days after the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army announced they would lift their unilateral ceasefire effective on February 10.

The CPP and the NPA said the government failed to comply with its “obligation to amnesty and release all political prisoners” and that the government troops took advantage of the ceasefire to “encroach” their territories.

Duterte also announced the termination of the peace negotiations at the wake of the three soldiers killed in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon province on February 4.

The president also called for the release of all the prisoners held captive by the New People’s Army and to stop asking for revolutionary tax.“Dapat nila i-release tanang police, army, taga-gobyerno. I-release nila. Ikaduha, dili sila mangayo ug revolutionary tax (That’s it, that’s part of it. They have to release all policemen, army, everyone from the government. They should release them all. Second, they should stop asking for revolutionary tax),” he said.

Duterte confered the Wounded Personnel Medals to seven wounded-in-action  soldiers, namely Pfc. Marquin Variacion, Pfc. Vincent Niño Lopez, Pvt. Regie Joy Duyan, Pvt. Ramon Balibagon, Jr., Sgt. Joshua Delawan, Pfc. Jenesses Andam, and 2Lt. Daniel De Guzman, at the Camp. BGen. Edilberto Evangelista Station Hospital.

He also visited the wake of two soldiers at the Camp Bgen. Edilberto Evangelista Chapel. Cpl. Marzon Morales and Pvt. Oshin Rosala died after a series of encounters with the New People’s Army  in Misamis Oriental on February 27-28, 2017.

Duterte said it pains him to see casualties on both sides as they are all Filipinos.

“Masakitan. Masakitan gyud ko pag mamatay ang pikas. Puro pilipino eh. Kaning ako, nia ko sa gobyerno, naa koy trabaho. Sabta na ninyo. Pero sakit saako makakita ug mag away nga mga pilipino. Ang gusto nako kapayapaan,” he said.

(I get hurt, I get really hurt if someone from the other side dies. Those are Filipinos. Me, I’m in the governnent and I have a job to do. Please understand that. It pains me to see Filipinos fighting against fellow Filipinos. I just want peace.)

Duterte said he is ready to talk and declare a ceasefire again but he said the peace talks should be sincere. He lamented that when the ceasefire was still standing soldiers still get killed. He said nobody wins the war and the people became the casualty.

“Andam ko basta sabot gani ug tinarong. Andam ko mag ceasefire usab. Pero tinarong nga istorya unya kanang tinuod. Kaniadto gud, tung naa pay ceasefire, gipamatay na man akong mga sundalo,” Duterte said.

(I’m ready as long as we communicate well. I’m ready to resume the ceasefire again, but this time I want it to be sincere. Back then, there was a ceasefire but my soldiers were killed.)

“Dili ko gustog gyera. Sayang ang kwarta. Imbes ipalit nakog bala ipalit nalang nako ug makinarya ipanghatag nako sa mga tao para makatabang. Para saako walay mudaog eh. Kitang pilipino mag away ra, puro mo Pilipino, way mudaog. Sa ako walay mudaog eh. Ang pildi ang bayan, ang nasod sa Pilipinas,” he said.

(I do not want war. It’s a waste of money. Instead of buying bullets I can buy machines and give it to help others. For me, no one will win. If we Filipinos fight against fellow Filipinos, nobody wins. The people loses, the Philippines loses.)

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Rep.Carlos Isagani Zarate, vice chair of the House Special Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, welcomed Duterte’s statement and expressed hope that the fourth round of the formal talks between the government and the NDFP will resume soon.

“We hope that formal talks can resume on April 2-6, as originally scheduled during the January Rome Third Round of Talks,” Zarate said.

Zarate also urged both parties to honor previous agreements without giving any precondition for the resumption of talks.

“The resumption of the peace talks will certainly further advance the bold gains already generated during the last three rounds of talks that began in August last year. Much have already been achieved in the substantive agenda on the socio-economic, political and constitutional reforms, thus, this is not the time to abandon the peace process that seeks a possible solution to the almost five-decade old armed rebellion in our country,” added the Davao-based solon.

“However, we also strongly urge Pres. Duterte to rein in the militarists in his administration who are hell-bent on derailing and sabotaging the progress of the peace talks,” Zarate said.(

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