Philippine president threatens to arrest Leftist rebels, supporters

Manila –   Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday threatened to arrest armed Leftist rebels and all the “legal fronts” supporting them.

“I will simply declare you all terrorists. I know that even the legal fronts are terrorists.

“Let’s not fool each other, I’ve been there.

“We will treat you as a criminal and we will arrest everybody connected with the legal fronts,’’ Duterte said in a speech in a military camp in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, a province north of Manila.

He accused the leftist groups of sowing terror in an effort to topple the government.

“You are helping each other, conspiring to topple or whatever, to sow terror, I’ll declare all of you as a terrorist group,’’ Duterte said.

Duterte’s fresh threat against the Leftist rebels came a few hours after presidential adviser on peace process Jesus Dureza announced that the government had decided to scrap the peace talks with the communist rebels.

“I told Dureza and government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello to tell the idiots, I am no longer talking to them,’’ Duterte said.

Recently, Duterte announced his plan to craft a proclamation categorising the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as a terrorist group.

The Duterte administration revived the talks with the communist rebels in Aug. 2016.

However, the talks have since bogged down due to a series of attacks inaugurated by the rebels against troops and civilians.

Since 1986, the government has been trying to reach a peace deal with the communist rebels but failed to make any headway.

The communist rebellion began in 1969 and reached its peak in 1987 when it boasted 26,000 armed guerrillas.

However, the movement has since dwindled due to differences in strategy and tactics and the arrests of many of its top leaders in the late 1980s.

At present, the military estimates the communist rebels at around 4,000. (Xinhua/NAN)

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