Duterte says he’ll end peace talks with communist rebels

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte updated the nation on government efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on April 27. — PCOO.GOV.PH

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday night said he would end peace talks with Maoist rebels after attacks on soldiers delivering medical aid amid a novel coronavirus pandemic.

“There are no more peace talks to talk about,” the President said in a taped speech. “I am not and I will never be ready for any round of talks,” he added, citing cease-fire violations by the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Communist founder Jose Maria C. Sison had called for a unilateral cease-fire twice amid a Luzon-wide lockdown that started on March 17 to contain the outbreak.

Mr. Duterte has extended the so-called enhanced community quarantine for much of Luzon until May 15.

Last week, he threatened to declare martial rule if lawless violence continues amid the health crisis.

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Mr. Duterte had tried to restart peace negotiations with communist rebels several times, only to end it last year. In December, he said he wanted to resume talks because he longed for peace.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon said at a briefing yesterday he and Mr. Duterte’s other security advisers had long advised him to discontinue the talks because the communist leadership was not really interested in a truce. — Gillian M. Cortez

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