MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Saturday, November 18, that he plans to issue a proclamation tagging communist rebels as "terrorists."
He also said he is "not anymore inclined" to pursue peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New People's Army (NPA).
In a press briefing after speaking at an event with farmers and fisherfolk in Davao City, Duterte said that the communists' "continued depredations" and the killing of innocent people prompted him to make that decision.
"I'll be issuing a proclamation. I will remove them from the category of a legal entity or at least a semi-movement, which would merit our attention, placing them pareho sa Amerika (as in America): terrorist," Duterte said.
"Beginning from now, wala nang (there is no more) rebellion-rebellion, because rebellion is just a light offense, it can be bailable except for the leader. We will file– terrorist, murder, lahat. Arson with murder. Lahat na, because I would consider them criminals already," he added.
"We will consider them terrorists, ordinary brigands, and no more about principles. You are not fighting for any principle," he later said in the press briefing.
He also blasted the CPP-NPA for their supposed propaganda against him. He said in a mix of Filipino and English, "Now, if I am corrupt, if I'm a fascist, if I'm a murderer, and I'm the DDS (Duterte Death Squad), why talk to me? Go find somebody else."
He also blamed them for the high cost of agricultural products, explaining that their extortion activities on the countryside force farmers to raise the prices up.
"Ayaw kong makipag-usap sa kanila (I don't want to talk to them)," he said. "Sige lang, nagpapahinga lang mga sundalo ko. (I will just have my troops rest.) But we will also go to the offensive."
Duterte added that militant groups like Bayan are "in conspiracy with the rebellion going on."
"We will study and maybe, we will have a crackdown there somewhere. Nagsasawa na ako dito sa kalokohan nila. (I am fed up with their foolishness)," he said.
In the same press briefing, he still encouraged the Reds to surrender, and he will give them a house and work once they do.
But, he added, "I will not just pay you for indolence there. I will take you in government, but you have to work, just like any other Filipino working every day to earn his keep." – Rappler.com