President Rodrigo Duterte has called on Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison to return home and resume the peace negotiations within 60 days.
“I created a small window — 60 days. My proposal to Sison, I will not go there. We’re fighting for the Philippines, so you come here,” Duterte told Sison in his speech during the 24th National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines (NFMCP) Annual Convention in Legazpi City on Saturday night.
Sison went into exile in the Netherlands after the two-decade regime of former president Ferdinand Marcos ended in 1986.
Recently, Sison expressed openness and readiness to resume peace negotiations, which Duterte cancelled in November last year due to the series of attacks launched by the New People’s Army on civilians and government troops.
In response, Duterte said he is ready to give the communist rebels another chance to resume peace talks.
The President said the National Democratic Front-CPP-NPA could set up a camp where he could talk to them “minus arms.”
“I will pay for your (Sison) fare, billeting and food. And your guerrilla front, you stay in one place, set up a camp. Bring your arms inside the camp, you tell us where you are, you can go out of the camp, minus the arms,” Duterte said.
Duterte said he will give Sison the complete freedom to move, adding that he will order the military and the police to “be nice to you.”
“Take advantage of that 60 days. If it succeeds, then I would like to thank God first and the Filipino people and the military and the police for their understanding,” he said.
The Commander-in-Chief said he cannot fight with communist rebels forever, “same with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front.
“But the threat of terrorism remains very high. We are not fighting against our Moro brothers and sisters,” Duterte, who traced his Maranao roots from his grandmother, said.
“You know, if you (NPA) can do it, whatever it is, I can do it better, 100 times better than what you can do. So let us respect each other. Anyway, civilians are not part (of the fight). But once you start to mess up with…. I will not back out,” he added.
Duterte said his administration is “well on its way” towards eliminating the social ills that prevent the country’s march toward progress.
“I seek your proactive participation in nation-building by upholding peace and order, preserving national security and eliminating misfits in our society,” he said in his speech.
“Remember that your greater participation in our fight against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption is crucial to our goal of uplifting the lives of the Filipino people,” he added. (PNA)