Duterte slams communists for NPA attacks despite promises
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte slammed communists anew for their contradicting messaging while his government implements martial law in Mindanao.
"Ang hindi ko talaga maintindihan…talagang sumasabog ang ulo ninyo (What I really don't understand…Your brains are really exploding)," said Duterte on Wednesday, July 5, as he spoke to soldiers of the 1002nd Infantry Brigade in Sarangani.
"First, you directed your soldiers to fight, to engage us, government. Maya-maya, nagsabi kayo tutulong kayo to fight alongside with government. Maya-maya, nandito na naman, fight na naman kayo (Then, you said you would help fight alongside the government. Then, here you go again, you fight with us)," he said.
Duterte noted the disparity between what communist negotiators say during peace talks and what New People's Army (NPA) rebels do on the ground. He echoed sentiments from security officials that, despite commitments from communists to silence guns, NPA units continued to attack government troops.
"Despite of just really doing what you want to say or say what you want to do, eto ineengkwentro na naman ninyo – kaya hindi ako kumukumpiyansa (here you go again engaging in clashes – that's why I don't have confidence in you)," he said.
However, Duterte admitted in another speech that day, in Hagonoy, of the need to continue talks with the Left.
"I have to talk to the communists but this time I hope you do it in a modality that is really sincere," the President said.
He also directly addressed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison, seemingly pleading with him to do all he can for the peace talks to work.
"You are sick, you are not dying but you are seriously sick. Would you be happy to see and to die that there is peace in this country before you finally close your eyes?" said Duterte.
The President's words come after chief government negotiator and labor chief Silvestre Bello III said the 5th round of formal peace talks may take place in August, after it was canceled in May.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has identified the NPA as one of the targets of martial law, aside from terrorists and drug syndicates.
The order to "degrade the armed capabilities" of the NPA is one of the key tasks for the military listed in the AFP Operational Directive Number 2 2017 or the "AFP's Implementation of Martial Law in Mindanao."
Bello had said the order won't affect peace talks since targeting the NPA is part of the military's "normal operations."
The AFP decided to include the NPA as a martial law target after the CPP ordered the NPA, its armed wing, to intensify attacks against the government in response to Duterte's martial law declaration.
This order from the CPP was the reason given by the government for pulling out of the 5th round of talks supposed to have been held in May in the Netherlands.
But in weeks, the National Democratic Front (NDF), the CPP's negotiating arm, ordered the NPA to help government fight terrorists in Marawi City.
On Wednesday, Duterte told soldiers to be vigilant against the NPA. During his visit, he gave out pistols which he advised the soldiers to use when they face threats, including the communist rebels.
"You know, the NPA won't wait if you have a weapon or not, if they kill one of you, it's one less enemy for them," he said.
Holding up a picture of the gun, he said, "This thing, this gun is hot. But at the same time, if you are resourceful, you can defend yourself." – Rappler.com