MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday asked National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants to surrender after calling off peace talks with communist rebels.
Some 20 NDF consultants were granted conditional release so they could participate in the peace talks, which were revived after Duterte, a self-proclaimed socialist, came to power in mid-2016.
But now that the peace talks have fallen through, Duterte said the peace consultants must now surrender.
“Now, I will consider the movement of the Communist Party of the Philippines as a terrorist group and I am ordering those I have released temporarily to surrender or face again punitive actions. You have to go back where you belong. I released you because I thought it might help,” Duterte said in a speech in Camp Tecson in San Miguel, Bulacan.
“Eh kung hindi makatulong, then you are undercutting me before the eyes of the Filipino people, ah you must be joking. You must be joking because I will go after you. And I do not really care whatever happens thereafter.”
Duterte on Thursday signed Proclamation No. 360 formally terminating peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) of the Philippines, following continued attacks by the New People’s Army (NDF) on state troops.
Duterte, a former student of Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, had sought to end the nearly 50-year communist insurgency early in his term, even appointing leftists to his Cabinet as a demonstration of the two sides' warming ties.
“I said, well let it not be said I did not try to reach out to them, for after all, during the campaign, my promise to the people of the Philippines was that I would suppress corruption in government and I’m hell bent on doing it,” he said.
Government officials and NDFP negotiators had 4 rounds of talks in Europe, where Sison is based, before Duterte suspended the negotiations last May.
The talks were stalled following armed clashes between government troops and communist guerrillas.
Duterte's anger against the communists was reignited following the death of a 4-month-old girl who was hit by stray bullet in a rebel ambush in Bukidnon earlier this month.