BACOLOD CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said he was “not ready to say we are ready for the (peace) talks again” with communist rebels but nevertheless asked them to “please kindly stop killing.”
His remarks were contrary to a recent statement in which he indicated he might be willing to reenter negotiations.
At the same time, he hurled at the rebels what is probably the accusation most raised against him — extrajudicial killings.
Speaking at the Bacolod public plaza during the city’s Masskara Festival Sunday evening, October 22, Duterte, addressing the communists, asked, “What about you?”
“You’ve been killing people left and right,” he pointed out, citing instances he said when off-duty soldiers leaving their camps for home were gunned down.
“That is (an) EJK,” he said.
“We have been killing each other … for 50 years,” Duterte said.
“Are we going to fight each other for another 50 years? Ano ba talaga gusto niyo (What do you really want)?” he asked.
Duterte resumed formal peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front, which represents the communists, soon after he became president.
However, earlier this year he scrapped the talks all together as government forces and the rebels traded accusations of violations of their separate unilateral ceasefires.
Touching on Marawi City, which he declared “liberated” from the extremist gunmen government troops had battled for close to five months, Duterte urged people to exercise “a little bit of caution,” echoing security officials’ warnings of possible retaliatory attacks.
While stressing that he was not calling for “profiling … I hate it,” he said it was a “good measure of knowing things within your control … your environment.”
He said he wanted to “make sure nothing of the sort ever happens again, especially in the Visayas.”
He also urged people to “treat your soldiers well” in gratitude for what they had done in Marawi.
“They really went into hell, ‘yung iba (some of them), they did not make it,” he said.