VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Did Duterte flip-flop on ‘coalition government’ with CPP, as Sison claims?

Read this fact check in Filipino

Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, in a strongly-worded statement, accused President Rodrigo Duterte of flip-flopping when he said he “cannot give” the CPP a “coalition government.”

Sison got the flip-flop right, but the instance wrong.

STATEMENT

In a speech Nov. 24, a day after he terminated the peace negotiations with the CPP, its armed wing New People's Army (NPA) and its political arm National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), Duterte said:

“As it was shaping up during our talks, I already noticed the trend of the thoughts of the other side. And when I sum it all, reading from all previous working papers, it would sound like a coalition government. That is why I said in the previous days, I cannot give you what I do not own. And certainly, a coalition government with the Republic of the Philippines is pure nonsense.”

Source: Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the 67th Founding Anniversary of the First Scout Ranger Regiment, Nov. 24, San Miguel, Bulacan, watch from 2:06 to 2:51

Sison responded by calling Duterte a “big liar,” citing a 2014 news report which said the president was “open to a coalition government.”

“To prove that Duterte is a big liar on the question of coalition government, I call the attention of the Filipino people to the following news links,” Sison wrote, quoting an Inquirer.net article which read:

“Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has firmed up speculations over his interest in running for president in the 2016 elections when he said he would forge a coalition government with the Communist Party of the Philippines if ever he were elected as the next president.

During the Dec. 21 episode of his Sunday television program, Duterte said anew that he hoped the coalition government would end the 46-year communist rebellion.

It was the second time he mentioned about forging a coalition government with the Left. The first instance was during last week’s release of two soldiers held captive by the New People’s Army in Davao del Norte.”

Source: Inquirer.net, Duterte vows to forge coalition with CPP, MNLF if elected president

FLIP-FLOP

Sison was right about the flip-flop.

In addition to the Inquirer.net report, the online news publication Davao Today in 2015 uploaded a video of then Davao City mayor Duterte saying:

‘Kaning coalition pang gobyerno na man ni, dili man ni ingon ug kinsa pa’y maghari-hari. Ug naay coalition tabla ta tanang Pilipino; komunista ka, gobyerno ka. So we will live in a mas arang-arang kalibutan (This coalition government, it’s not just for one to act like a king. If there’s a coalition, we’re all equal, whether you’re a communist or from the government. So we will live in a better world).”

Source: Davao Today. Duterte speaks of coalition govt, federalism during warden’s release, Jan. 19, 2015, watch from 0:11 to 0:25

Yet Duterte flip-flopped as early as July 1, 2016, his first day after inauguration in office:

“If I can talk to (Jose) Maria Sison and bring about — not a coalition government — an inclusive government.”

Source: President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s Speech during the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Change of Command Ceremony, July 1, 2016, watch from 6:10 to 6:19

Duterte was more explicit in a July 28 statement, saying he will “never, never agree to a coalition government”:

“I would like to assure everybody here in this room that I will never, never agree to a coalition government.”

Source: Statement of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the Situation Briefing, July 28, 2016, watch from 0:53 to 0:59

BACKSTORY

Pursuing peace with communist insurgents was a campaign promise by Duterte, who upon winning the presidency offered cabinet posts to the CPP and welcomed Sison’s planned return to the country from his exile in The Netherlands. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte says ‘Yellows’ and ‘Reds’ should merge; that doesn’t make sense)

In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte promised to “strive to have a permanent and lasting peace” and announced a unilateral ceasefire with the NPA. (See VERA FILES SONA PROMISE TRACKER: Peace process)

Peace negotiations reached a fourth round of formal talks in April 2017, but the government canceled the next round, citing a CPP directive to intensify attacks following the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

In his second SONA, Duterte openly criticized Sison and said talks were going nowhere. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Peace or war?)

Citing the supposed failure by NDFP “to show its sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peace negotiations,” Duterte signed Nov. 23 Proclamation no. 360, formally ending the peace talks.

Sources:

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Timeline of the Peace Process between the Philippine Government and NDF-CPP-NPA

josemariasison.org, Duterte is a big liar

Official Gazette, Proclamation No. 360

Davao Today, Duterte speaks of coalition govt, federalism during warden’s release, Jan. 19, 2015

Inquirer.net, Duterte vows to forge coalition with CPP, MNLF if elected president, Dec. 28, 2014

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative.)

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FOR FURTHER READING

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Bumaligtad ba si Duterte sa 'coalition government' kasama ang CPP, tulad ng sabi ni Sison?

Tama si Sison tungkol sa pagbabago ng isip, pero mali ang pagkakataon.

VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Peace or war?

Toward the end of his SONA, the president took back the olive branch he had extended to the Left.

Peace process

2016 SONA promises on peace process

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