By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte said he was still giving a “small window” for government and the communist rebels to forge a peace agreement.
The President insisted that the rebels must agree to the cessation of hostilities, stop the demand for a coalition government, among others, for the peace talks to resume.
“No coalition government, cessation of hostilities, tapos they must surrender and place themselves in camps, I do not disarm them,” Duterte said at the inauguration of the Malayan Colleges Mindanao in Davao City.
“For the small window that I gave to myself and (Jose Maria) Sison, we have to have some common agreement — 60 days and after that, if nothing happens, then I tell you: prepare for war because this rebellion of the Communist Party will go on,” he added.
Earlier, the President said he was not interested in talking peace with the rebel group after taking offense at Sison’s claim that he would be ousted in three years.
Duterte said he was prepared to accept his destiny if overthrown from power but prefers to go to war with the rebels first.
“Sabi nila (They said) instead of fighting, they’ll just use their energies to oust Duterte. Ah okay lang kung ‘yun ang ginusto ng tao (That’s fine with me if that’s what the people want). I am ready to be ousted pero fight muna tayo (but let’s fight first),” he said during a science and technology forum last Friday.
At the Davao event last Saturday, the President still seemed irritated at Sison’s ouster moves against him, telling him to talk peace with his successor instead.
“Sabi niya, ‘Ah Duterte will not last three years.’ Kaya sabi ko, ‘Ayaw ko na lang makipag-usap sa iyo kasi hanggang three years lang man pala ako. ‘Di after three years, wala na ako diyan. So ‘yang kausap mo, hintayin mo three years’ (He said Duterte will not last three years. So I said, I don’t want to talk to you since I’ll last only for three years. After three years, I won’t be there. So wait for three years to talk to someone),” he said.
Duterte said he has reviewed the government’s previous agreements with the communists, including the safety guarantee pact. He said he found out that rebels were aiming for a “power-sharing” or coalition government, which he would not accept.
“When you sum it up, it boils down to power sharing or coalition government, which I cannot give to them because it is not within the power of the presidency to concede anything as important as authority,” he added.
The government earlier decided to put on hold the resumption of the peace talks with the communist rebels pending a review of previous agreements as well as consultations with various sectors.
The rebel group has reportedly agreed to postpone the talks with the government, citing the President’s refusal to heed calls for socio economic reforms.
The Palace later opted to push for localized peace talks with communist rebels, citing they were proven successful in the past and have led to the surrender of rebels.