Friday, July 1, 2016

Duterte to rebels: “We cannot fight forever”

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 1): Duterte to rebels: “We cannot fight forever”

Saying his first job as President is to bring peace in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday reiterated his intention to reach out to the enemies of the state particularly the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the Moro rebels in Mindanao.

”It is not a war to be fought forever. We cannot fight forever. We might have the weapons, the armaments, and the bullets, mortars, but that does not make a nation,” President Duterte said in his speech during the change of command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

”The first job of a president is not to go to war but rather to bring peace to his land. My job is to talk to the enemies of the state,” he said.

President Duterte was referring to the CPP and the two rebels groups in Mindanao -- the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

”Even before I was already proclaimed but before assumption of office, I was busy going around Mindanao and talking to a lot of people to bring about peace in our land. Started with the left and with the NPAs (New People’s Army), and we got a favorable answer from the leaders, including Jose Maria Sison,” the President said.

President Duterte said he is set to talk next week with MILF chair Murad Ebrahim and vice chair Ghadzali Jaafar and might travel later to Jolo, Sulu to sit down and talk with MNLF leader Nur Misuari whom he called his friend.

For the kidnap-for-ransom Abu Sayyaf Group, President Duterte said the ASG is closely connected with the issue of Mindanao but “we cannot be whipping boys of the few who wants nothing but maybe money and power in their hands.”

”You know, the truth is, we can only take so much. I am not warning Abu Sayyaf but I said there will always be a time for reckoning,” he said.

While he is reaching out to the rebel groups to achieve peace, President Duterte said he would continue to wage war against criminals, drug traffickers and corrupt officials.

He warned the drug lords who continued to operate even behind bars at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa to stop their illegal activities.

”You know there is always a time for everything. There’s always a time for you to make money and make a mockery out of our laws. There’s always a time for you to be in control even if you are inside the prison. But there is always a time to rest and to die. Ganoon ang buhay (That is life). As you are born, there’s also death,” he added.

President Duterte asked the AFP to help him put a stop to criminality and illegal drugs.

”In the final days of the campaign at Luneta, I gave this statement and I said I will put at stake my honor, my life and the presidency,” the President said.

”I told you criminals, all of you: If you destroy my country, I will kill you. If you destroy our children, I will kill you. If I am asked by anybody, including the Commission on Human Rights, I do not know you,” he added, drawing applause from the audience that includes Vice President Leni Robredo.

If he could bring peace and unity in the country, Duterte said: “I can retire happy and I can look back and say that I did my duty in nation building.”

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