MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday threatened to shut down any mine that supports Maoist rebels waging a protracted guerrilla war to overthrow the government.
The Philippines has been in on-again, off-again peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of the communist movement, since 1986 to end a rebellion that has killed more than 40,000 people and stunted growth in resource-rich rural areas.
In a speech honoring soldiers who fought pro-Islamic State militants for five months in the southern city of Marawi, Duterte said that attacks from the Maoist rebels had been on the rise, forcing him to end negotiations, and that he would declare the guerrilla group a terrorist organization.
“If I go against the communists, then everybody has to reconfigure their relationship with the New People’s Army,” he said, referring to the communists’ armed wing. “If you support them financially, I will close you down.”
Duterte said some mines were paying “revolutionary taxes” to the rebels in exchange for allowing their operations in remote areas to continue. He did not name any companies.