MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte instructed military and police to shoot any armed New People’s Army (NPA) member or terrorist they see as part of his new approach to dealing with communist rebels after he formally terminated peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF).
“If there is an armed NPA there or terrorist who is holding firearms, shoot and tell any – ako na ang magsagot (I will answer),” he said on Wednesday, November 29 during the send-off of Vietnamese fishermen in Sual, Pangasinan.
Duterte said not to mind condemnation from human rights groups as he will claim responsibility for their actions.
“You just shut up. Do not answer if that issue of human rights [comes up]. You say, ‘You go to Duterte. It is and was his order,’” he said.
A frustrated Duterte said he decided to end talks after realizing communists are not “serious” in pursuing peace negotiations and after the deaths of soldiers and police during NPA attacks.
The NPA rebels, he said, deserve the shoot order.
“And so? You are destroying my country and you expect me to pat you on the back and say, dahan-dahan ka lang? (You go easy?)” said Duterte.
Malacañang is crafting an executive order declaring the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA as a terrorist organization.
The Philippine government, under Duterte, had asked Washington to remove the CPP-NPA from its list of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) but the US did not grant the request, saying the organization continued to fit the FTO tag.
The President has also ordered the re-arrest of all NDF consultants who were earlier granted temporary liberty so they can participate in the peace talks. His arrest order, he said, covers CPP founder Joma Sison, his former professor who is living in exile in The Netherlands.
However, Duterte said he might exclude some elderly rebels from those to be sent back to jail, saying they no longer posed a threat.
“Those who are above 70 like me, it’s like I am the one getting tired for them, although leaders, I said, ‘You can go.’ Anyway they cannot go far, they cannot climb those mountains there,” said Duterte.
He warned the NPA that if they decide to ramp up their acts of violence against government forces, the government will apply the same level of force.
“I do not want to start a real violent war. But if the NPAs, just like the terrorists, would do it, then we will give them the favor,” said the President. – Rappler.com