Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte, who has earlier signified that he would listen to people’s clamor for him to run for President, today said that the first task of the new President in 2016 should be to end the 46-year-long Communist insurgency.
Using the hypothetical phrase “If I would become President,” Duterte said he would work on ending the bloody insurgency waged by the Communist New People’s Army which has caused so much suffering and hardships especially among people in the countryside.
Duterte made the statement in response to questions from newsmen who covered the Federalism Forum in Butuan City today, the first leg of the “Listening Tour” which will bring him and his team to several key cities of the country over the next two months.
“We cannot continue killing each other. We are all Filipinos,” Duterte said adding that he was willing to talk with National Democratic Front head Jose Maria Sison who he said was his former college professor.
Reacting to criticisms to his stand to bring in the NPAs to work with government, especially in agencies involved in social services, Duterte asked “Why? Do they have better ideas in ending this insurgency?”
Duterte said the armed campaign by the government against the NPAs over the last 40 years has not neutralized the Communist movement in the countryside.
In an earlier statement, Duterte said that “If I would become President,” he would be willing to work with the Left provided that they will all give up their arms and renounce violence as a means to achieve change in society.
“I am willing to allow them to handle agencies of government involved in social services and pro-poor programs. But they have to come down and give up the rebellion,” he said.
Duterte said the strategy is expected to identify the real “rebels with a cause” from the plain extortionists who have been demanding money from businessmen and farmers in the countryside.
Those who will refuse to give up their arms after the group has been accommodated by government will be pursued relentlessly and neutralized, Duterte said.
“We will have a fresh start. We should stop killing each other for after all, we are all Filipinos,” he said.
Duterte succeeded in arranging a “modus vivendi” with the NPAs operating in the boundaries of the city with Bukidnon, North Cotabato, Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley Provinces, making Davao City one of the Safest Cities in the World to Live In.
His working relationship with the NPAs based on “mutual respect” has also made him an effective negotiator for the release of government men, including soldiers and policemen, who were abducted and held hostage by the rebels.
Last Monday, Jan. 19, Duterte succeeded in gaining the freedom of the COMVAL Provincial Jail Warden who was captured by the NPAs on Dec. 23 last year.
(Photo caption: Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte shake hands with Jose Mervin Coquilla, jail warden, Compostela Valley Province, during his release on January 19, 2015. The turn-over ceremony was done in a far-flung barangay in Monkayo, Compostela Valley. Behind them are Ka Kaloy, Comval – N. Davao – S. Agusan Sub-Region of the Southern Mindanao Region, New People’s Army commander and Bishop Hamuel Tequis of the Exudos for Justice and Peace. Photo by Rene Lumawag)