NUEVA ECIJA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said he would order the arrest, not only of armed communist rebels, but also of all members of "legal fronts" helping the Left.
Duterte, on Wednesday, November 22, said he will treat the members of even these non-armed groups as terrorists and therefore criminals.
"I will simply declare you all terrorists. Terorista kayo pati 'yung mga legal front 'nyo, alam ko. Huwag na lang tayo magbolahan, galing ako diyan eh (You're terrorists and even your legal fronts are terrorists, I know. Let's not fool each other, I've been there)," said Duterte in a speech in front of soldiers in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.
"We will treat you as a criminal, period. And we will arrest everybody connected and 'yung mga legal fronts nila (even their legal fronts)," added the President.
He said these leftist groups should be treated as outlawed organizations since they are helping to topple the government or promote violence.
"You are helping each other, conspiring to topple or whatever to sow terror," accused Duterte.
The President dared the "legal fronts" to declare their "revolution." Nothing they do will stop him from branding them as terrorists.
"Mag-demanda na kayo, mag-revolution na kayo, kung ano'ng gawin 'nyo, wala akong pakialam. Basta ibalik ko kayo as terrorist group," said Duterte.
(Even if you sue, even if you stage a revolution, no matter what you do, I don't care. I'll declare you as a terrorist group.)
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.