Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, has warned that his government would not sign peace agreement with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) unless local rebels stop their ambushes and attacks.
The fifth round of peace talks between the government and the CPP would resume in the Netherlands on May 27.
The president gave the warning on Tuesday at a news conference on arrival from his official visit to Cambodia and China.
He said that as the Commander-in-chief, he had 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,” Duterte said.
He reiterated his call on the CPP founding chairman and peace talk 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 hospital bill. I will not have him arrested.
“He is sick; we do not fight people who are helpless, not healthy anymore,” he added.
Duterte had initially suspended the peace talks with the rebels in February this year after the leftist group continued its attacks against military and police forces in spite unilateral ceasefire declared separately by the government and CPP.
The rebels also demanded the release of 400 rebels who they claimed were political prisoners which Duterte rejected.
The Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Forner said in statement that peace negotiations between the government and the CPP are set to resume on May 27 to June 1 in Noordwijk, Netherlands.
Forner did not elaborate on the agenda of the upcoming talks but Manila said both panels are expected to discuss more on finalising the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms.
He said that the most contentious agenda in the talks, including land reform and national industrialization would be on the agenda.
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.
Duterte has expressed confidence before that he could make the rebels agree to a peace agreement during his term which ends in June 2022.(Xinhua/NAN)