DAVAO CITY, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte broke his silence on the decision of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ termination of its unilateral ceasefire declaration.
In his speech during the 38th National Convention of the Philippine Association of Water Districts, Duterte said the revolutionary forces should not coerce him as he had already “conceded too much, too soon.”
“Huwag n’yo akong ipitin because the military might not like it. And then the military would oust me, would kill me, you have nobody talking to you,” Duterte added.
“’Pag ang military magalit, hindi naman na hindi sila sang-ayon sa akin, but they would always support you if they think you are right,” Duterte said.
Duterte reiterated that he has already released communist top leaders, including the Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, whom he described as the “ideologues”.
Duterte said releasing the almost 400 political prisoners is similar to having him grant them amnesty. He said amnesty usually comes after a successful negotiation.
“Now they want 400 released. My God, that is already releasing all. Para na akong nag-amnesty, which is usually given after a successful negotiation,” he said.
“It is already the talks are over and there is a successful formula. So what is there to show?” he said.
The CPP Central Committee and the National Operations Command of the NPA announced on Wednesday morning the termination of their unilateral ceasefire effective 11:59 pm on Feb. 10.
The CPP and NPA cited two reasons for terminating their ceasefire, including the failure of the government in its “obligation to amnesty and release all political prisoners” under the previously signed agreements – Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees.
The communists said the release of the prisoners is “a matter of justice and in fulfillment of the promise of President Duterte.”
“The unilateral ceasefire declaration was issued on the mutual understanding with the GRP that such releases will take effect within 60 days of August 28. Such was the context why the GRP panel approached the NDFP towards the end of October seeking an extension of the CPP/NPA’s declaration with a promise that around 200 political prisoners were set to be released,” it said.
The CPP and NPA also said the government took advantage of the ceasefire to “encroach” their territories.
“Across 164 municipalities and 43 provinces, the GRP’s armed forces have occupied at least 500 barrios which are within the authority of the revolutionary government,” it said.
Duterte had previously announced that he will not grant the release of all political prisoners unless he sees a bilateral ceasefire signed by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the CPP’s political wing which engages in the peace negotiations with the government peace panel.
“I’m just asking for a document which says that we are now in a ceasefire mode, signed by the government of Oslo who’s offering their good offices for us to negotiate. Now, if you ask too much, this is a country that is not authoritarian,” he said.
Duterte explained that he has to consult other agencies, including the military.
“Of course, nobody stood up right on my face to say it is not good. But during our talks, on our coffee time relaxed moments, they would make suggestions. And you can get vibration of what they want,” he said.
“Mahirap iyang akala ninyo ako lang kasi nanalo ako, tapos ako na. Hindi ako diktador ah (It’s difficult when you think that because I won, it will just me who will decide. I am not a dictator). And I have to be very, very careful. There is Congress to consider, which is a co-equal body,” he said.
But Duterte did not mention whether he will reciprocate the decision of the CPP and NPA. He said he will decide “in the fullness of God’s time. (davaotoday.com)