President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday again shut the doors on the possible resumption of the peace talks with the communist rebels after saying early this month he could not afford to lose all channels of communication with them.
In his speech during his visit to the site of the bomb explosions that killed 21 people in Jolo, Sulu, Duterte said the rebels’ continuing attacks on the armed forces negated the very purpose of resuming the peace negotiations.
“It’s the same with the New People’s Army. I will not talk to you anymore. There’s nothing we can do. You try to be straight, follow, there’s a story. You practically begged... We’ll just make a story... We won’t,” Duterte told soldiers in Jolo on Tuesday afternoon.
“And then in return, you will give me this. Coffins, dismembered legs. Son of a b***h. Not me... Doesn’t matter if I land in jail after this. It’s all mine, all mine.”
Two weeks ago, the former head of the Philippine Coconut Authority Avelino Andal claimed that Duterte ordered him to conduct backchannel talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines.
After Andal made headlines for his revelation, the Palace refuted his claim, saying he was not authorized to represent the government in the negotiating table.
In December last year, Duterte signed Executive Order 70 directing the creation of a national task force to ensure an efficient and effective strategy to address the decades-old communist insurgency in the country.
The peace talks between the government and the communist rebels bogged down in November 2017 after Duterte walked away from the negotiating table, repeatedly blaming the rebels for violating the ceasefire agreements.
Since then, the armed forces have pursued offensives against the communist rebels across the country.
Duterte had previously imposed conditions before the revival of the peace talks, but CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison shrugged off the government’s push for localized peace talks, calling it a “cheap trick” that had failed many times.