President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his remarks during the oath-taking ceremony for the newly promoted officers of the Philippine National Police at Malacañan Palace on August 8, 2019. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said communist rebels were insisting on reviving peace negotiations with the government.

Duterte said Fidel Agcaoili and Luis Jalandoni, who represent the communist rebels in negotiations, wanted to return to the country to resume talks following the death of four police officers in Negros Oriental, which state forces have blamed on the New People’s Army (NPA).

“I don’t know but they are insisting on resuming the talks and ‘yong iba (the others), I will not mention the name, they want to come home to talk,” Duterte said in a speech during the oath-taking of newly promoted police officers at Malacañang.

Sabihin ko na lang (I’ll mention them anyway), si Jalandoni pati si Agcaoili. ‘Yong si Agcaoili naman abogado e (Agcaoili is a lawyer). Si Jalandoni ideologue (Jalandoni is an ideologue). And it’s because of that four policemen,” the president said.

Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison, however, disputed Duterte’s claims.

“Duterte is completely wrong in presuming and implying that the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) will negotiate with his regime under his unilateral terms, and that Chairperson of the NDFP Negotiating Panel Fidel Agcaoili and Senior Adviser Luis Jalandoni want to talk in Manila,” Sison said in a statement.

Bounty for policemen’s killers raised
In his speech, Duterte announced that he had raised to P6 million the reward for the capture of those behind the killings of the policemen.

“Irrespective police or civilian, kung sinong makatiklo niyan (whoever finds them), P6 million na ‘yan,” he said.

“Give to me his head,” he added.

Four policemen were killed by suspected NPA members in an ambush last July 18 in Ayungan town, Negros Oriental.

In 2017, Duterte signed Proclamation 360, which declared the termination of peace negotiations between the government and communist group officials, and Proclamation 374, which declared the CPP and NPA “terrorist” organizations.

The president also formally announced the end of peace talks in a speech in March. (