No peace accord with rebels until they stop attacks: Rodrigo Duterte
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he will not sign any peace agreement with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) unless the rebels stop their attacks.
Manila: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he will not sign any peace agreement with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) unless the rebels stop their attacks.
Duterte's statement comes ahead of the fifth round of peace talks that will resume in the Netherlands on May 27, Xinhua news agency reported.
According to the President, he as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces has to assure the safety of his soldiers.
"For me, for as long as they are killing government security forces, I will not sign anything. I cannot do anything. I have to protect my soldiers. I am the Commander-in-Chief," Duerte said.
He also reiterated his call on CPP founding chairman and peace talks panel consultant Jose Maria Sison to return to the country along with his offer to shoulder his hospital expenses.
"My offer to Sison stands. He can come here in peace. I will guarantee safety and I will even underwrite his hospitalization. I will not have him arrested. He is sick... We do not fight people who are helpless," he said.
Duterte scrapped the peace talks with the rebels in February this year after the leftist group continued its ambush attacks against military and police forces despite unilateral ceasefire declared by the government and CPP.
The CPP demanded the release of 400 rebels who it said were political prisoners. Duterte rejected the demand.
Peace negotiations between the government and the CPP will resume on May 27 to June 1 in Noordwijk, Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Forner said.
Forner did not elaborate on the agenda of the upcoming talks but Manila said both panels will discuss more on finalising the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms, the most contentious agenda in the talks, including land reforms and national industrialisation.
The armed conflict between the Philippine government and the communist movement's armed wing, the New People's Army, has lasted for almost 50 years.
The number of leftist guerrillas dwindled from 26,000 in the mid-1980s to less than 4,000 this year, according to the military.
Nevertheless, Duterte has expressed confidence that he could make the rebels agree to a peace agreement during his term, which ends in June 2022.