MANILA –The government will not consider declaring an all out war against communist rebels after the peace talks were suspended, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday.
“No (all out war). Law enforcement (operations) only,” President Duterte told reporters in a chance interview after he visited the wake of soldiers killed in action in Cagayan de Oro City.
The President said he will no longer consider the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) as communist groups but as terrorist groups.
Duterte expressed dismay over the rebels’ public announcement that they were lifting the ceasefire order February 10 yet they continued to kill government soldiers and policemen.
He was likewise appalled by the manner the soldiers were killed noting that one of them sustained 73 gunshot wounds.
“Why do you do that? Ano ang sundalo aso? Eh ‘di wala ka man lang respeto na kalaban mo in the field of battle, there is always honor,” he said.
He urged communist leaders who participated in the peace talks to return home and go back to prison.
“And upon your arrival, I will arrest you and place you back in prison,” he said.
“Ngayon, kung ayaw ninyong bumalik, you are fugitives, I will cancel your passports and I will inform the international police for an international warrant,” he added.
Meanwhile, he said he is willing to accept other communist rebels who will surrender to the government.
“To all of you soldiers in the mountains, I am offering you peace. If you go down, I will find money to place you in settlements and I will proceed with the land reform,“ he said.
Duterte said he would not change his mind about suspending the peace talks until the end of his term unless there is a compelling reason for him to decide otherwise.
He reiterated that he already went out of his way to the point of swallowing his pride and enduring insulting remarks only to put an end to a 50-year-old war.
“But apparently, it seems to me that these terrorists want another 50 years of killing Filipinos,” he said.
The President said he tried to put an end to decades long communist insurgency in the country but the unreasonable demands of the rebels made him think twice in pursuing the talks.