- President Duterte reassured AFP amid talks with CPP for peace
- He said he is a Filipino who does not belong to any party or ideology
- He added he wants an inclusive but not a coalition government with the communists
MANILA, Philippines – With the resumption of peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) set on August 20, President Rodrigo Duterte reassured the country’s armed forces that he is first and foremost a Filipino working for his country.
“We are friends. You know that I am not a communist. But people, including the military, suspected that many years ago. I’m a Filipino, period. I love my country, period. I will work for my country, period. I will die for my country, period. I do not belong to anybody. No party or ideology owns me,” he told members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AF) in Camp Nakar, Lucena City.
Duterte has in the past emphasized that he also came from the Left and is an admitted socialist but not a member of the CPP.
“I am a socialist, not a communist. We socialists are for the people,” he said.
The president also told his audience that while he is encouraging communists to come join his administration, the prospect of them forming a coalition government with him is out of the question — in stark contrast to his earlier declarations.
“I would like to assure everybody here that I will never, never agree to a coalition government. I am very emphatic that I can have an inclusive government. I have taken them in. I can shake hands and talk about peace,” the Philippine Star quoted him as saying.
The normally friendly ties between Duterte and the Reds have been disrupted after members of the New People’s Army (NPA) ambushed a group of militiamen in Davao del Norte. With their failure to issue an explanation, the president lifted the government’s unilateral ceasefire.
In a subsequent statement, the NPA claimed they just pre-empted a government attack on their camp.