By Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos
Despite the growing number of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels returning to the fold of the law, President Duterte said that he is still not ready to give the peace talks with communist rebels another chance.
Duterte, in an interview with the media in Lanao del Norte, said the number of NPA surrenderers growing by the day will only fuel the anger on those still fighting for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).
“Not at this time. Maybe. Alongside with the mass surrenders is also the ferocity of those fighting,” Duterte told reportes in Barangay Balo-i, Lanao del Norte Wednesday night.
Duterte also said that he is not yet satisfied with the number of NPA rebels surrendering to the government.
“Lumalaban pa rin sila, marami pa sila eh (There are a lot of them still fighting). I am not satisfied by the numbers of surrenderees,” he said.
“The barometer is if they give up or—dalawa lang ‘yan (there’s only two options). They give up or they’re all dead,” he added.
“Wala man akong magawa (There’s nothing I can do). They’re fighting government. They’re killing the soldiers and policemen. So my order is also to kill them,” he continued.
In mid-February, Duterte stepped up his game against the Reds when he offered to train lumads as Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), and pay them P20,000 each to kill members of the armed group. This is in response to CPP founder Joma Sison’s threat to ask the NPA to kill a soldier per day if the Philippine government will not talk to the Reds.
Meanwhile, the President also said that the government forces will have to reconfigure their moves as they realize that the NPAs are also getting more aggressive and smarter by the day.
“Sabi ko nga (As I said), we have to reinvent the doctrine diyan sa detachment-detachment sa highway. Kasi sila nahalata ko, malayo sila, marunong na sila mag-sniper. Natutumba ‘yung mga sundalo ko, nakatindig lang diyan sa detachment (the detachment of soldiers in the highways because I noticed that they have snipers now. They can gun down my soldiers in the highways),” Duterte said.
“So we are reconfiguring our — the movement of the forces. Sinabi ko sa sundalo na ibahin na ninyo. Except ‘yung mga population centers. Pero ‘yung sa mga highway, ayaw ko na (I told the soldiers to change it except in population centers. But I don’t want the highways anymore),” he added.
The past month, Duterte has hosted a meal for two batches of former NPA rebels in Malacañang. During both occasions, the President outright criticized Sison, saying his former professor thinks he own the government.
Meanwhile, Duterte said he would allow the ‘bright’ children of the rebel returnees to study in the University of the Philippines (UP); adding that if they have an average grade of above 94 percent, good in math, and aspire to be soldiers, they can enroll in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) if they want to.
Duterte’s meeting with the former rebels came almost three months after he terminated the peace talks with the Reds, citing their continuous attacks against government forces despite the then ongoing negotiations.
Following the termination of the peace talks, Malacañang reported last week that the Norwegian remains committed to assist the Philippine government (GPH) in its peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA-NDF.
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