DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 Nov) — President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated on Saturday he will not go back to the negotiating table with the communists as he would issue a proclamation designating the New People’s Army (NPA) as a terrorist group.
Duterte said in a media briefing during the launch of launch of TienDA Farmers and Fisherfolks Outlets in Abreeza Mall Davao Saturday that he wants NPA categorized as a terrorist group because rebellion is just a light offense.
He said he will classify them as terrorists as the US State Department did over a decade ago.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) was designated by the US State Deparment as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) on August 9, 2002. From 1997 to 2017, the US Secretary of State listed 61 international terrorist groups, with only 13 groups so far delisted.
Duterte said he is not inclined to resume the peace talks with the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) as they are no longer “legitimate rebels” due to the continued extortion activities and attacks against innocent people, citing the latest NPA assault on November 11 in Barangay Tikalaan, Talakag, Bukidnon that killed a four-month old infant, Walysha Machorao, and police officer and six others injured.
“We will consider them terrorist, ordinary brigands and no more about principles there. You are not fighting for any principles, my God, killing a 4-month old infant? And you say that you are… a revolution,” he said.
In a statement issued by the NPA on November 15, the NPA said they took full responsibility for the incident and vowed to extend necessary indemnifications to the victims.
“We hope that the aggrieved families and friends could find it in their hearts, however difficult, to accept our profound apologies,” it said.
Duterte said the death of a four-month old infant and wounding civilian passengers on-board the Toyota Fortuner was intentional even as the NPA claimed they tried to stop the civilian vehicle before firing at the police patrol car.
“You know when you fire at government vehicles or anyone for that matter, any—somebody else’s vehicle, that’s already danger. It’s a malicious act. There is the intent to kill, that’s why it’s an ambush. Therefore, according to law, you are responsible for all the unintended pati (including) intended victims, there is pure malice there, criminal intent,” he said.
Duterte also brushed aside calls of the militant groups to resume the peace talks, noting that they keep on urging him to talk with the NDF negotiators while they accuse him of being corrupt, fascist and murderer.
“Ngayon, kung corrupt ako, kung pasista ako, kung mamamatay-tao ako, at DDS ako, (Now, if I am corrupt, fascist, murderer, and the one behind Davao Death Squad) why talk to me? Go find somebody else,” Duterte said.
The 5th round of formal peace negotiations between government and the communists supposedly in the Netherlands in May 2017, was called off. Both parties were supposed to discuss the Comprehensive Agreement Social Economic Reforms (CASER).
Duterte also criticized the NPA for continuously extorting and attacking the business sector in Mindanao, citing specifically the burning of heavy equipment owned by the agricultural firms, “destroying the very essence of the industry” here that provides work.
As of 4 p.m. Sunday, the communists had yet to respond to Duterte’s latest pronouncements.
“Then, they say that they fight for the people? What a lousy statement actually. Ayaw kong makipag-usap sa kanila. ‘Di lang, nagpapahinga lang mga sundalo ko. (I don’t want to talk to them. My soldiers are just resting) But we will also go to the offensive,” he said.
He had repeatedly warned during the five-month Marawi Siege that after Marawi, government forceswill focus on the NPA. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)