Duterte: No more ceasefire with Reds under my term

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 7) — President Rodrigo Duterte shut the door on any ceasefire with communist rebels for the remainder of his term, retreating from his call last week before the United Nations for a global truce so countries can focus on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There will be no more ceasefire ever again under my term ko pagka Presidente (as President). For all intents and purposes, ‘yung ceasefire is dead. Wala na ‘yun (There’s no chance of that),” Duterte said in his weekly address to the nation aired on Monday.

The President reiterated an earlier remark that the communist movement is bent on unseating the government. He again warned that he will identify people whom he accused of committing crimes such as murder, arson, and rape.

“I am identifying you because I have seen the records. You are really communists,” Duterte said. “And as I have pointed out, we are not only tagging you. That’s a light [term]… We are identifying you.”

He called out Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate as a member of the communist armed wing New People’s Army, saying “the act of the soldier NPA is the act of Zarate.”

This was not the first time Duterte threatened to name insurgents, or linked Zarate and other lawmakers to the communist party. He previously said the Makabayan bloc organizations are communist party fronts.. Makabayan denied this. The coalition said the red-tagging only discredits progressive groups and members of the opposition in the 2022 general elections.

READ: Ex-Makabayan lawmakers: Red-tagging will continue until 2022 to discredit opposition in polls

The Armed Forces of the Philippines earlier said it would not recommend to the President a holiday ceasefire with the guerrillas, citing the alleged "incapacity for sincerity and for being unfaithful to a covenant" of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing the New People's Army.

Duterte's stand against the truce is in contrast to his recent pronouncement at the United Nations. In his address before a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on the health crisis on December 4, he reiterated the Philippines' support for the call of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for an immediate global ceasefire amid the pandemic.

“The Secretary General’s report for global ceasefire is most welcome and appreciated,” the President said.

Guterres, at the 75th UN General Assembly session in September, urged nations to pull back from hostilities and focus on the COVID-19 fight.

"It's time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives. Silence the guns, stop the artillery. Fight the disease ravaging our world. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now," he said.

Duterte walked away from peace negotiations with the communist group in 2017 as both sides accused each other of ceasefire violations. The administration has since pushed for localized peace talks instead, one that has been rejected by the CPP, saying the government was fabricating reports on the massive surrenders of armed rebels.

The National Democratic Front represented the rebels in the negotiations. The insurgency has spanned over five decades.

Despite a promising start to the peace talks during Duterte's first year in office, the government has moved to declare the CPP-NPA as terrorists. This tag has to be tried and approved by the Court of Appeals.