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Philippines’ Duterte Ends Peace Talks with Maoist Rebels

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  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a late night news conference at the presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 29, 2017.
    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a late night news conference at the presidential palace in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 29, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
The move ends 27 years of peace negotiations that sought to end an armed conflict that has killed about 30,000 people.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte shut down peace talks with communist insurgents from the National Democratic Front of the Philippines after both the government and the rebels called off unilateral ceasefires aimed at ending a decades-long conflict.

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The move ends 27 years of peace negotiations that sought to end an armed conflict that has killed about 30,000 people since a popular insurgency in the Philippines began in the 1960s.

Duterte, who describes himself as a socialist, previously freed top communist leaders to continue with the peace process. However, he has now angrily condemned the insurgents for resuming hostilities, saying he is ready to fight them.

“I told the soldiers to prepare for a long war. I said (peace) will not come during our generation,” he said late Saturday.

The two sides signed an indefinite cease-fire in August, and the informal arrangement largely held as they continued discussions in Rome brokered by Norway, but he rebels announced an end to the ceasefire last week, accusing Duterte’s government of treachery and human rights abuses.

The president said he was now ordering government negotiators to “fold their tents and return home from overseas talks with the rebel leaders.

“I am not interested in talking to them. I will refuse to talk about it anymore … We have been fighting for 50 years. If you want to extend it for another 50 years, so be it, we will be happy to accommodate you,” he said.

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In his characteristically aggressive tone, Duterte called the rebels “terrorists,” despite the fact that negotiations with the Maoist rebels was a cornerstone of his campaign.

During his first address to the nation he said he wanted a “permanent and lasting peace” with the guerrillas before the end of his six-year term, but his tone rapidly turned hostile after New People’s Army rebels killed six soldiers and kidnapped two others in fresh violence that enraged the president.

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