Duterte considers communists as ‘friends’

Nearly a week after announcing his plan to revive peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he sees the communist insurgents as his “friends.” 

The President said he could not be totally harsh on the members of the CPP, including its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), because he was able to establish good relations with them. 

“Kriminal, nag-bayad sila ng buhay nila. The NPAs, magkaibigan naman kami niyan that’s why we want to talk again (Criminals face death to pay the price of their wrongdoing. The NPA rebels, however, are my friends, that’s why we want to talk again),” he said in a speech delivered at Palace’s Rizal Hall.

“You know, magkaibigan kami (we are friends). My views of life have always been Left,” he added.

On Sunday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo assured that CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison and other communist leaders who will join the possible revival of peace negotiations with the national government will enjoy temporary freedom when they come back to the Philippines.

Panelo said the President will order the suspension of arrest order issued on Sison and other members of the CPP’s political arm, the National Democratic Front, in case they agree to resume the peace talks in the country.

The guarantee was made after Duterte announced on Dec. 7 that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, former government’s chief peace negotiator, will be flying to the Netherlands to talk to Sison about the planned resumption of talks.

Sison has been in self-exile with his wife, Juliet, in the Netherlands since 1987.

The communist founder and his wife are facing impending arrest due to their supposed involvement in the so-called “Inopacan massacre,” the 1980 mass purging of communist insurgents allegedly connected to the military in Inopacan, Leyte.

Communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, as well Adelberto Silva, have also been ordered arrested, following the termination of peace talks between the Duterte government and the communist movement.

On Nov. 23, 2017, Duterte signed Proclamation 360, formally ending peace negotiations with the NDF, following the strings of attacks launched by the NPA rebels against the government troops and civilians.

Barely two weeks after, or on Dec. 5, 2017, the Chief Executive inked Proclamation 374, tagging the CPP and the NPA as terror organizations because of their supposed commission of crimes that are “against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the law of the nations.”

The CPP-NPA has also been listed as a terror group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

On Dec. 6, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Duterte has suggested that the possible peace talks with the communists resume in the Philippines.

Sison, however, said on Dec. 7 he is opposed to the proposal to hold the negotiations in Manila. PNA.GOV.PH