Duterte on pushing for talks with Mautes: 'Impossible'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 6) — President Rodrigo Duterte himself clarified on Thursday the matter on reports of initiating talks with the Mautes to end the conflict in Marawi City.

Duterte, who spoke with the media after his visit to the 403rd Infantry Brigade in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, said there was no truth that he had wanted to negotiate with the ISIS-inspired terrorists.

"Well, the (MILF) and (MNLF) probably have started initiatives there. But kung manggaling sa akin, ako maghingi sa mga criminal pati terorista, imposible," he said.

[Translation: Well, the (MILF) and (MNLF) probably have started initiatives there. But for me to initiate talks with criminals and terrorists, impossible.]

RELATED: Offer to talk came from Maute mother, Duterte declined — gov't

A certain Aga Khan Sharief, who is said to be a Muslim leader, had claimed that the President pushed for talks with the Maute group.

"No, I did not… He's a pretender," the President said.

The President said it's too late for talks as too many soldiers and policemen have died already.

"Let us finish this once and for all."

RELATED: Duterte to soldiers fighting Mautes: No prisoners, kill them all

The chief executive said he was open to talks with revolutionaries, like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), because they were fighting for a cause.

Meanwhile, the President called on the communist rebels to stop  extortion activities.

"I refuse now to resume the talks with them until they stop itong extortion," Duterte said. "It's plain extortion. And if they want to continue, to resume the talks, one of the things that I would demand would really be that they stop the extortion activities."

Talking to the troops

In his earlier speech with the troops of the 403rd Infantry Brigade, Duterte again explained why he had to declare martial law.

He said he did not want to "wage a war" against fellow Filipinos, but had to because of his constitutional mandate to keep the country safe.

READ: I was forced to declare martial law to prevent civil war — Duterte

The commander-in-chief said he wasn't happy about declaring martial law in Mindanao, because he knew it meant sending government troops and security forces to places where there was violence.

"Wala namang Presidente gustong may magpatayan sa kapwa niya Pilipino [No President would want his people killed]. I mean it's not good to wage a war, if possible, against your own people."

However, Duterte said it had to be done or else he would have gone to jail for not doing his job.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the President may declare martial law for up to 60 days in case of invasion of rebellion and when public safety requires it.