Like the United States, President Rodrigo Duterte will place the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) in the list of terrorists.
If he had recognized them before as legitimate rebels, Duterte said he would no longer talk to them with the continued depredations and killing of innocent of people – even an infant, a four months old baby – during an ambush in Bukidnon.
“So beginning from now, wala nang (no more) rebellion-rebellion because rebellion is just a light offense. It can be bailable except for the leader,” Duterte told reporters in a press interview at the launching of the Department of Agriculture (DA) – Ayala Malls partnership of TienDA and Fisherfolk outlets at the Abreeza Mall Saturday.
Duterte said he would remove the communist movement from the category as legal entity or semi-(revolutionary) movement which would merit the Philippine government attention.
“We will consider them terrorists, ordinary brigands and no more about principles there. You are not fighting for any principle. My God, killing a four-year-old infant?” he said.
Duterte said government authorities would file murder, arson, and other charges “because I would consider them criminals already.”
The President pointed out that killing a baby is an intentional act. It is not an accident.
“You know when you fire at government vehicles or anyone for that matter. There’s always a danger. It’s a malicious act. There is the intent to kill that’s why it’s an ambush,” he said.
“Therefore, according to law, you are responsible for all the unintended and intended victims. There is pure malice, there (is) criminal intent. That is what the law says,” he said.
Asked if he is still interested in continuing the peace talks with the CPP-NDF given that their armed group — the NPA — have intensified attacks against government forces, Duterte said he is no longer inclined to talk peace with the communists.
The peace negotiations with the left have been suspended since February.
He also referred to the legal groups like Bayan, which is also conspiring with the ongoing rebellion citing the propaganda and the protest-rallies of the allied groups pointing him as fascist and into graft and corruption.
“There’s a lot of streamers there and placards saying that pasista ako, ako ay graft and corruption, may PHP2 billion ako (I am fascist, I am into graft and corruption, I have PHP2 billion),” he stressed.
If this is what the communists believe, Duterte said they should not relate with him. “What’s the point? Why are you talking to me if I am a corrupt official, if I have amassed wealth?” he asked.
Duterte said he could give everybody access to his bank account except his political nemesis.
“I can give you any time to find out. All they have to do is write the AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Commission) to allow them to push the button there,’ he added.
“Ngayon, kung corrupt ako, kung pasista ako, kung mamamatay tao ako, at DDS ako (Now, if I am corrupt, I am fascist, I am a killer, and I am DDS [Davao Death Squad]) why talk to me? Go find somebody else,” he added.
The past two weeks saw the NPA’s intensified offensive operations against government forces in the areas of Davao, Bukidnon, and Agusan.
In Davao City, NPA liquidation hitmen killed a police officer in Barangay Valencia, Tugbok District on November 13. The rebels also abducted two police officers in Caraga.
On November 14, NPA burned two trucks along the highway of Barangay Cuyago, Jabonga province of Agusan del Norte.
There was also the ambush incident killing a four-month-old baby and a police officer in Talakag, Bukidnon.
Duterte said the NPA’s extortion activities, even victimizing farmers, have contributed to the high prices of farm goods.
“Kayong mga Pilipino dapat maintindihan ninyo ‘yan bakit mahal? Kasi ang NPA, may extortion. Pati ‘yung mga farmers nagbabayad. Dagdag ‘yan doon sa presyo (You Filipinos you should understand why the (products) are expensive? Because the NPA is into extortion. Even farmers pay. That’s an addition to the prices,” he said.
The President said the NPA is victimizing the businessmen and burning their equipment.
The businesses are providing work for the countryside and yet the rebels are destroying the very essence of the industry, he added.
“And they say that they fight for the people? What a lousy statement actually,” he said.
Duterte said he would give his soldiers a break then “we will also go to the offensive”.
“We will study and maybe we will have a crackdown here somewhere. Nagsasawa na ako dito sa kalokohan nila. So ‘yang lahat ninyong pretending to be speaking for the people ‘yung mga quasi ano ninyo diyan, legitimate kunwari (I am sick with their foolishness. So everything that you are pretending to be speaking for the people and your quasi, legitimate pretenses),” he said.
But Duterte said he would give a chance to the rebels who have reached their senior years, to surrender and they would be provided with housing and work.
“Pero magtrabaho kayo (But you will have to work). I will not just pay you for your indulgence. I will take you in government. But you have to work just like any other Filipino working every day to earn his keep,” he assured. (Lilian C. Mellejor/PNA)