By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is prepared to “walk the extra mile” to attain peace in the country amid the planned revival of the talks with the communist rebel group.
The President said he has set a 60-day timeframe to work out a peace agreement between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CCP) and expressed hope that it would prevail.
Duterte said he already asked CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison to return to the country for the peace talks and promised to provide safe passage.
“I will talk to the enemies of the state in search of peace and that is why I have invited si Sison to come home peacefully, and I will guarantee his personal safety and security,” he said before an assembly of newly elected barangay officials from Central Luzon 3 in Pampanga gathered in Pampanga Tuesday.
“I can afford to give you 60 days. For despite of all the previous talks that we have had, it ended in a failure but I am willing to walk the extra mile,” he said.
Duterte said the 60-day window was “the most critical moment” of his presidency since he will shoulder the plane and lodging expenses of Sison.
For the peace talks to resume, he said the communist rebels must stop extortion activities and agree to stay in their camps place while the negotiations are ongoing.
“They do not carry firearms outside of that area until the talks are over,” he added.
If the peace talks prevail, the President said the nation would be “lucky” and he would thank the Lord for it.
But if the talks collapse, Duterte assured that he will escort Sison back to the airport and ask him never to return to the country.
“I will see to it that he will fly out alive,” he said.
“He got mad kasi sinabi ko ‘pag umuwi ka, papatayin talaga kita. And there is nothing wrong with it. There’s nothing wrong in the statement because he is an enemy of the state,” he added.
Peace talks were suspended last year after President Duterte protested the rebel attacks on government troops. Duterte changed his mind a few weeks ago and decided to resume the talks one last time.