DAVAO CITY—Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on Friday asked her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, to reconsider his decision to reopen peace talks with the communist rebels, casting doubts on their sincerity after they burned close to a dozen pieces of heavy equipment in three barangays here.
“I believe the insurgency problem can only be ended peacefully if the NDFP [National Democratic Front of the Philippines] and the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army [NPA], are sincere, honest, and committed to working toward the direction of peace and reciprocate the gesture offered by the government,” the mayor said.
“But there are no indications at all that they are willing to negotiate for a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” she said.
On Thursday, police repelled communist rebels who tried to overrun a police station in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte.
A report from Camp Col. Rafael C. Rodriguez in Butuan City said local police officers of Station 5 fought off 40 NPA rebels in a 20-minute gunfight in Barangay San Mateo. The police stood their ground, and the rebels retreated without getting any weapons or ammunition.
In Davao, the mayor cited the death of a fish vendor as a result of an NPA bomb that was set off, and the death of a four-month-old baby who died in an NPA ambush in Bukidnon last year.
Mayor Duterte said the “the communist movement is not to be trusted as they have consistently shown us their deep-seated proclivity to sow hate, violence and extremism, destruction, and senseless killings.”
She remained firm that the government should maintain its position in dealing with terrorists like the NPA.
“[W]e are not supposed to negotiate with terrorists, but deal with them the way we should—tough, strong, high intensity, and one that gathers all sectors to completely crush their influence in communities where they are present,” Mayor Duterte said.
“We should put a stop [to] the insanity of these terrorists—or more children will be orphaned, more civilians will be killed, more soldiers will die, and many more facilities and equipment will be burned,” she added.
She said the government should stop giving attention, resources and time to the CPP-NPA for it is almost certain that the NPA will continue to terrorize the government forces and civilians even if the peace talks resumes.
“Suspending the peace talks would not only mean ending the delusion of these terrorists, but would also allow the realization of long-delayed growth and the development of our countryside villages. It also means giving justice to the victims of these terrorists,” Mayor Duterte said.
“While I trust the wisdom of the President and his intention to end the insurgency problem peacefully, I believe pursuing peace talks with the NDFP-CPP-NPA is counterproductive and plainly useless,” she added.
She then said that the country will move forward if the government eliminates the rebels and their senseless rebellion.
On Friday, the President reiterated his invitation to leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front of the Philippines for a dialogue in Manila.
At a press conference upon arriving at the Davao International Airport, Duterte said he was imposing no conditions but said he wanted the peace talks to last two months.
“I have invited outside the Philippines who are communist members, leaders to come home. I guarantee during the two months they will not be molested or inconvenienced as long as there is ceasefire, no taxation, no atrocities,” said Duterte. “Just come here as a citizen.”
He added that he would offer food assistance to all NPA camps during the two-month period if no attacks were launched and the rebels did not try to collect “revolutionary taxes.”
Acting Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, said he would consult with National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza before making a decision on whether to review or withdraw the petition before a Manila court to classify the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.
“As this involves national security, I’ll have to consult first with our national security adviser and the presidential adviser on the peace process. This is not an ordinary criminal prosecution,” Guevarra said, in a text message.
Guevarra issued the statement after Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate urged the Department of Justice to review the petition, which was filed during the stint of his predecessor, Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, in February.
Zarate said Guevarra should include in his review the list of some 600 names included in the petition, warning that it may be used as a “hit list’ on those included.
Among those included in the list submitted by the DOJ are CPP founder Jose Maria Sison, peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni, former lawmaker and leftist leader Satur Ocampo, and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.
Before Aguirre’s resignation, a department undersecretary, said they would pursue the petition despite Duterte’s order to resume peace talks with the communists.