President Rodrigo Duterte softened his stance against the communist rebels and even offered members of the New People’s Army good life by providing them houses and jobs.
In his brief remarks at the inauguration of Gaisano Grand Citygate Mall, the President also acknowledged the initial support the NPA had given him when he was running for the presidency.
“I will not be where I am today without the help of the people of Davao and the NPA. I’m thankful for that,” he said.
In a related development:
• The Communist Party of the Philippines is willing to resume peace negotiations with the government whenever President Duterte was ready.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, founding chairman Jose Maria “Joma” Sison said it was up to the President to end his position of having terminated the peace negotiations through Proclamation 360.
“The standing policy of the NDFP is to negotiate with the GRP anytime he is ready to resume the peace negotiations in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and further agreements,” said Sison.
Duterte reiterated to them the significance of working with the government.
“And because you helped me, I am asking you to also help me find a way for all of us to live,” Duterte said.
“I would not be here in this position right now if not for the people of Davao, including the NPA. I don’t want to fight with you. I also don’t want to kill you. We are friends,'' the President said.
The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
The President, through an executive proclamation, declared the NPA as a terror group in December 2017.
“What we have to do in our generation—it behooves this generation to find the elusive peace,” Duterte explained.
The Chief Executive also reassured the rebel returnees that jobs were waiting for them, especially in Davao, and they could avail themselves of livelihood training skills from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
“There are jobs here, and that makes me very happy. You NPAs sleep on it. Nobody else is closer to the NPAs here than the Davaoeños,” he said.
Meanwhile, the President lauded the Gaisano Group for playing a vital role in the lives of the Davaoeños, and for contributing to the overall progress of Davao City.
“I want to thank you a lot first because of the jobs. You have generated jobs for the people here,” he said.
“You know, when I was still mayor, I told you that I would do my best to lift the economy here in Davao City so that we could provide more jobs. Now there are a lot of businesses,” he added.