Duterte ready to attack communists 

New People’s Army has been fighting for almost 50 years. Source: YouTube

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he is abandoning peace talks with communist insurgents due to take place this month and is ready to launch offensives. 

Duterte said the talks due in Norway with the New People’s Army (NPA) were being scrapped and he was instructing his negotiators to fly home.

The communist rebels were demanding the release of 400 prisoners, which he said was excessive.

Duterte warned that the military was ready to respond with airstrikes and ground offensives if rebels launched attacks.

Duterte, at a press conference, called the rebels “terrorists” as the NPA killed six soldiers and kidnapped two others in fresh violence that enraged the president.

“It seems to me that these terrorists want another 50 years of war, of killing of Filipinos,” Duterte said after attending a wake for three of the soldiers in the southern city of Cagayan de Oro.

“I don’t want a bloody thing, but if they choose to do it, fine,” Duterte said. “With my lifting of the ceasefire, they can begin their attacks and we are prepared and I will use the assets. We have so many planes now, we have jets, I will drop all [the bombs].”

A ceasefire had held for six months.

“I’m not ready to resume,” Duterte said. “I tried everything. I walked the extra mile, released prisoners, released their leaders so they can go to Oslo to talk.”

Duterte said that the communist leaders who had been freed temporarily to take part in the peace negotiations overseas now faced returning to prison.

The NPA was unavailable to comment.

Talks in Italy last week aimed at negotiating a truce broke down when the militants demanded the release of 400 more prisoners, including a man who killed a US army colonel in 1989.

The president has tried to revive the peace process and has already held two rounds of formal discussions with the communists.

The near 50-year-old conflict with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA, its militant wing, has cost around 30,000 lives.

The communists say the military have used Duterte’s drug war as a pretext to mount operations in rebel areas amid ceasefires.

They oppose US military deployments in the Philippines and have in the past killed US personnel in the archipelago.