By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is expected to launch “more focused and intense” military offensives against enemies of the state this year with the ultimate objective of crushing them by 2022.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said a “relentless” campaign would be pursued against lawless elements including Communist insurgents and terrorists.
“We expect military offensives to be more focused and intense in 2019 as we are geared to crush enemy forces by the end of the President’s term in 2022,” Panelo said.
“The government will remain relentless in its fight against all forms of criminality, including the Muslim rebellion and the Communist insurgency, correctly described by former Secretary of National Defense Gilbert Teodoro as a ‘syndicated criminal terrorist enterprise,’ as well as other terrorist groups,” he added.
Panelo, however, rejected allegation made by Communist leader Jose Maria Sison that Duterte was the mastermind of state terrorism.
“There is also no such thing as state terrorism, as maintained by Mr. Sison, but only state-applied measures to end the bloodshed and deaths of our fellow Filipinos engineered by the CPP/NPA/NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front).
Sison recently declared that the ouster of Duterte would be the priority of the communist group this year. He earlier hit back at the President for ordering the troops to destroy communist rebels, saying Duterte was an “abominable violator of human rights.”
“He is the mastermind of state terrorism and No. 1 violator of human rights and someone truly deserving of trial by the International Criminal Court as well as by the people’s court of the people’s democratic government,” he said.
Panelo, however, dismissed Sison’s latest ouster threat against the President as nothing but “fantasy.”
“As in previous years, their attempt to overthrow duly constituted authorities failed, so it will be relative to the present one. Mr. Sison’s and the CPP/NPA/NDF’s dream of altering political leadership will remain just that – a dream. A fantasy. An illusion,” he said.
He also belittled the capacity of the Communist group to oust the Duterte government, saying its ranks were “now aging and its membership declining.” He said the group could no longer recruit or attract new ones without coercion or intimidation.
“Where in the past, they were able to mislead the best and the brightest amongst our youth, the latter has become more discernible. Hence, the ‘expanding and deepening mass base’ Mr. Sison is talking about is nothing but a pipe dream,” he said.
“From a visionary, Mr. Sison turned out to be an illusory rebel engaged in hysterical rants and pitiful, if not absurd, propaganda,” he added.