Duterte renews offer to Reds: You want talks? Declare 'immediate ceasefire'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 17) — President Rodrigo Duterte is again urging communist rebels to lay down their arms if they want to get back to the negotiating table.

"Kayong mga NPA (New People's Army), kung gusto talaga ninyo nang usapang matino, immediate ceasefire. Walang magdala ng armas sa kampo ninyo o sa labas," Duterte said during a campaign rally of ruling PDP-Laban party in Tuguegarao City Tuesday night.

[Translation: "To The NPA, if you really want serious talks, declare immediate ceasefire. Do not bring arms inside and outside your camps."]

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) which has waged a five-decade insurgency – the longest running in Asia. The National Democratic Front of the Philippines represents rebels in talks with the government but Duterte walked away from the negotiations in November 2017 as both sides accused each other of ceasefire violations.

Duterte said the NPA should stop collecting revolutionary taxes and conducting arson attacks. He also called on NPA rebels not to kill innocent civilians.

"'Yung mga kurakot diyan na nagche-checkpoint, 'yan ang patayin ninyo. 'Yan ang order ko," he said.

[Translation: Kill those corrupt people conducting checkpoints instead. That's my order."]

Duterte's latest statements came even as he announced in March the "permanent termination" of the peace talks and terminated the services of the government's peace panel members, including then chief government negotiator and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III. The President said a new panel, which includes military men, will be created to oversee talks that will be led by local government officials. But CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison considers it as a "war panel," and stressed that the rebels will not participate in localized peace talks.

On Tuesday, Duterte also reiterated his call for Sison to come home so peace negotiations could resume. He said Mindanao could not progress as long as communist rebels conduct attacks there.

"Kaya ihinto mo muna lahat, umuwi ka dito, Sison. Ako ang bahala sa iyo. Hindi ako traydor na tao. I give you my honor - word of honor. Mag-usap tayo," Duterte said.

[Translation: That's why stop everything you are doing and come home, Sison. I will take care of you. I am not a traitor. I give you my honor - word of honor. Let's talk."]