Manila, Dec 8 (efe-epa).- Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has ruled out any ceasefire with communist guerrillas for the rest of his term that ends in 2022.
“There will be no ceasefire ever again under my term, my term as president. For all intents and purposes, the ceasefire is dead. It is long gone,” Duterte said in a televised address to the nation aired on Monday night.
He accepted the military recommendation not to call a Christmas truce with the rebels, a tradition that Duterte also did not follow in the last two years.
However, he declared a unilateral one-month ceasefire on Mar 16 to let the army focus on the response to Covid-19.
The New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines considered a terrorist group by the government, also halted hostilities on March 25, days before the UN called for a global cessation of armed combats amid the pandemic.
However, the Philippines ceasefire did not last more than a month. During that time, the two warring parties accused each other of violating the truce.
The communist outfit claims it is fighting a Maoist guerrilla war to achieve power in the Philippines through revolutionary insurrection, fueling the longest ongoing conflict in the country.
Duterte came to power in 2016, promising to revive the peace process with the communists. The two sides even agreed to a truce in 2017. However, the talks broke down in June 2018.
“I walked away from the talks because we could not understand each other. I do not know why, but I simply cannot understand the way it was being carried by the other side. What was evolving was not acceptable to the Philippines,” he said.
Clarifying about a proposal by the rebels on a transitional coalition government, Duterte said: “No president will allow it. He will get impeached. You will get impeached. You are not supposed to share that power.”
Duterte also pointed out that if he agreed to a new truce with the NEP, the military would label him as a “traitor” and the police would shoot him for “putting the republic at risk.”
The president also attacked other left parties with parliamentary representation, grouped in the block known as Makabayan. He accused them of being “covert communists” and acting as “legal fronts of the NEP.”
Human rights organizations have denounced harassment by law enforcement against left-wing political activism, which has resulted in arrests and even murders.
Karapatan, a national network of civil society groups, alleges that during the Duterte administration, law enforcement agencies have killed 353 activists and social leaders and illegally detained more than a thousand.
The NEP, born in 1969 to combat the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, has about 3,900 regular troops – although it reached 26,000 in the 1980s. The conflict that since left 43,000 people dead, which makes it the oldest and deadliest communist insurgency in Asia. EFE