In his first state of the nation address, the Philippines’ newly elected President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has announced an immediate, unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines, the National Democratic Front, and the New People’s Army, groups which have been engaged in a protracted insurgency since 1968.
The communist groups for fought the government since then, with designs on an eventual revolution, which has resulted in upwards of 40,000 deaths throughout the years, but not much real movement toward a resolution either way.
President Duterte called for an end to “decades of ambuscades and skirmishes,” saying the fighting was going nowhere. He also urged Muslim insurgents to consider talks, saying that “if we cannot, as yet, love one another, then in God’s name, let us not hate each other too much.”
Duterte ran on a campaign to wipe out drugs and crime across the Philippines, as well as eliminating the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group, which is one group which he did not talk about reconciliation with. He has been criticized by the Catholic Church in the month since he took power, accused of being part of a growing campaign of extra-judicial killings and other vigilantism. Duterte has not denied such charges, but rather warned criminals that the priests “won’t prevent your death.”
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