While Duterte would keep his hardline stance in killing criminals in cold blood, he revealed a soft spot for rebel group the New People’s Army.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte courted the votes of Bohol, a province struggling as a battle ground between the New People’s Army and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. It has over 750, 000 registered voters.
According to Rappler, Duterte said: "When I say get out, get out. Or you'll be killed. Pero wala'y apil ang NPA (NPA members are not included)."
He draws the line between criminals and the NPA, with the latter fighting for an ideology they believed in.
Albeit appealing to the sentiments of NPA symphatizers, Duterte clarified that is only a moderate left.
In the same report, the Davao mayor spoke in the town of Ubay: Leftist ko, pero dili ko extreme left. Ari ko sa ilok," he cracked a joke before a visibly excited crowd on Sunday, April 3. (I'm a leftist, but not on the extreme left. I'm closer to the armpit.)
Diplomacy over violence
Last 2015, the Davao City mayor asked the rebel groups for diplomacy.
According to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, he said: “Come down from the mountains, come home and let’s talk.”
Last December 31, the NPA surrendered a government army soldier to the presidential aspirant after 104 days in captivity.
Accordin to a report from Mindanews, Ricardo Manili of the NPA guierilla front 4A said that the surrender was a “humanitarian consideration” in pursuit of the stalled peace talks between the government and the rebels.
NPA has recently celebrated its 47 years in March this year.