• Pres. Rodrigo Duterte hosted a dinner with members of the Communist Party of the Philippines
  • This was held two weeks before the second round of peace talks with the Communists
  • Duterte had said this is part of his promise for attaining peace

President Rodrigo Duterte hosted a dinner at Malacañang together with National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, along with other members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The Tiamzon couple are key figures in the NDF, which serves as the political arm of the CPP-New People’s Army.

The President’s invitation comes just two weeks before the second round of peace talks with the CPP-NPA is set to begin.

In an earlier press conference, Duterte had explained he wanted to “break bread” with the Tiamzons.

“The communists want to meet with me in Davao but because we are short of time, sabi ko dito na lang,” he told GMA News.

He even joked about the historic moment despite the fact that no President in recent years has engaged that closely with the CPP-NPA, who currently operate the longest-running Communist insurgency in Asia.

“Oh, pinagbigyan ko. Okay na ba iyong lason natin diyan? [Oh, I gave them a chance. Is our poison ready over there?] They will break bread with me. Sila lahat mga komunista [All of them communists], they’re going to host me,” he said as previously quoted by Rappler.

The President also explained himself to the Armed Forces, tempering alleged rumblings against engaging with the Communists, saying it is part of his responsibility to ensure peace.

“Look, kayong mga military. Minsan kasi sila [Look, you in the military. Because sometimes]I’ve heard that there are rumblings… kasi natural enemy. Marami ring patay na military ‘di ba? [because they are natural enemy. There are a lot in the military who died right?] I told them that you know, guys, I am a president. I am your commander-in-chief, yes? That is a title for war. Unfortunately, I am not a war-time president. My main job, my main task is really to seek peace for my land that’s why inuna ko na iyan sila [I am putting them first]. Even before I assumed office, nagkaintindihan na kami mag-usap [we had an agreement to talk],” he said.

Last August, the first round of peace talks resulted in the declaration of ceasefire both on the side of the military and the NPA.