Duterte explains why he terminated foreign-brokered peace talks with communist rebels

By: Madeleine Keck - Posted on: November 29, 2017 | Current Affairs

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte blamed the breakdown in talks on the Maoists guerrillas’ demand for a coalition government

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (C) salutes during the 67th anniversary of the First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR) at a military camp in San Miguel, Bulacan province, Philippines, 24 November 2017. Photo: EPA/Simeon Celi

President Duterte explained on Tuesday that he brought an end to the government’s protracted peace talks with the country’s Maoist-led rebels because the militant groups wanted to establish a joint political administration with the government, a demand he said could not be met.

“I studied the working papers and the sum total is a coalition government. I told them I cannot give what I don’t have. It’s a thing of sovereignty and you know… the one that represents sovereignty are the elected choice of the people,” Duterte said at an anti-corruption summit in Manila.

“It cannot be shared by somebody just because you’re fighting a revolution and you want to fix it by having a coalition government.”

Given the significant losses the security forces had suffered during the nearly half century long conflict with the communists, Duterte added that “the military, even the police, [would] launch a coup d’état and I [would] lose my head,” if he were to enter into a coalition government with the communist guerillas.

Duterte formally terminated peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) last Thursday when he signed Proclamation No. 360.

The announcement came amid a recent intensification of attacks by NPA militants on state troops and police. In the first half of November alone, the rebels claim to have launched 27 successful attacks against government forces and to have captured two policemen.

Following the announcement, Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison described Duterte in a statement as a “consistent political swindler and demagogue who depends heavily on lying”.

“Duterte does not mind being proven a big liar on the question of coalition government. He thinks that he can move on from success to success at political swindling,” Sison stated. “Now, he is being carried away by his obsession to establish a fascist dictatorship through charter change under the pretext of adopting a pseudo-federal system under his over centralized despotism and terrorism.”

Duterte shrugged off Sison’s accusations. Even if he wanted to become a dictator, the country’s security forces would not let him, he said.

“That’s why there is always a revolution. If you overstay? I become a dictator? The military will go after me, same with what happened in the past,” he added later at. “You overstay, you abuse… there will always be attempts of coup d’état and mutiny.”

But Duterte did concede that the termination of the recent round of peace talks, which began last year and were brokered by Norway, would likely lead to more attacks by the NPA.

“They will seek revenge,” he said. “It could be more lethal.”