Duterte to military: for peace, not war

  • President Rodrigo Duterte has ongoing negotiations with separatists and leftists
  • Duterte aims to end the decades-long insurgencies in Mindanao
  • He is scheduled to talk with the MILF and Nur Misuari

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte said he is currently working on negotiations with separatists and leftists for peace.

The newly inaugurated Philippine president said he aims to end the decades-long insurgencies of the Muslim and communists. It has already claimed thousands of lives.

Duterte announced to the media that he will meet with leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and with Nur Misuari, founder and leader of a faction of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The MILF is the largest rebel separatist group in the Philippines.

Duterte also added that he has already started negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) even before he took office late last week.

“It is not a war that can be fought forever. We cannot fight forever. We might have the weapons, the armaments, the bullets and the mortar but that does not make a nation,” Duterte said in his first speech in Camp Aguinaldo as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The president said that these steps he is taking are part of his responsibilities and that he wants to be able to look back on this contribution to nation-building when he retires from office.

“My job is to bring peace. My job is to talk to the enemies of the state. I can retire happy and I can look back and say I did my duty in nation-building,” Duterte said.

As for the issue of the extremist group Abu Sayyaf who beheaded two Canadian hostages recently, Duterte connected it to the struggles of the Muslim minority

“We can only take so much. There will always be a time for reckoning. We can only swallow so much. We cannot be the whipping boy of a few who want maybe nothing but money and power in their hands,” he said of the bandit group. The group recently pledged allegiance to Islamic State jihadists.

Duterte said that it falls on him to look for the answers or resolutions to this ongoing problem as he is the first president to be elected from Mindanao.

The timetable for peace with the MILF has been derailed after the former administration failed to pass a law that would give wider autonomy to the Muslim minority. In 1996, the MNLF signed a peace agreement with Fidel Ramos’ government but that autonomous government was deemed as a failure.