DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 2 Feb) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte likened the New People’s Army (NPA) to the global terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after he accused the communist forces of beheading Mar Acevedo Bocales, a former communist rebel who became a CAFGU member, in Surigao del Sur last January 27.
During the “Panagtagbo Alang sa Kalinaw ug Kalambuan: An IP Leaders’ Summit” at the Naval Station Felix Apolinario on Thursday, Duterte slammed the NPA for harassing Lumad and tribal leaders who want to return to the government fold.
“Unsa ma’y ilang diperensya sa ISIS ug kidnapper? Mao na’y imong hustisya ipakita? (How are they different from ISIS or kidnapper? This is justice for you?),” the President said.
In a statement released on January 31, Ariel Montero, spokesperson of the NPA in Northeastern Mindanao, denied the allegation that they killed Bocales and pointed to a certain bandit group led by Emerson Cuarteron as the group responsible for his death.
He said Cuarteron’s group is member of the Magahat paramilitary group led by Calpit Egua, which harasses and extorts residents in gold mining communities of Barangays Castillo and Bolhoon in San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.
Montero accused Bocales of being associated with Calpit Egua.
He added that Cuarteron is facing criminal cases of kidnap for ransom, carnapping and illegal possession of firearms. He and a certain Hasmin Acebedo are fighting for the control of Barangay Castillo that he surmised was the reason behind the killing of Bocales, according to Montero.
“The group continues to exist by harassing and grabbing land from farmers, and forcibly collecting taxes from small miners and farmers,” he said.
The President told the 934 Lumads from different parts of Mindanao to resist the NPA if they are being recruited and asked them to keep their distance from the communist forces as he promised to provide them livelihood.
Duterte said he would give the Lumads P100 million in assistance for agricultural programs.
“Ug mu-recruit mo, ingna kuwan, Iglesia ko ni Duterte. Unya ang among relihiyong bag-o, Iglesia ni Duterte (If you are being recruited, tell them that you an Iglesia of Duterte. This is a new religion, Iglesia of Duterte),” he said in jest.
Duterte said the NPA only drives a wedge between Lumads by recruiting them into their guerilla forces.
“And 50 years ‘to niagi na. Nagsugod na ta’g another 50 years. Pangutan-on ta mo, sukad atong naa mo’y gamay na negosyo sa bukid, unsa ma’y gihatag sa NPA kaninyo? (And 50 years had already passed. We are starting another 50 years. I will ask you, since you started your business in the mountains, what did the NPA give you?),” he asked.
The President asked the Lumads if they would want 100 years of exploitation and brutality.
“Hindi!” the crowd responded.
The supposed fifth round of negotiations between government (GRP) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panels, scheduled November 25 to 27 last year in Oslo, Norway, was halted, following the issuance of Proclamation 360 of President Rodrigo R. Duterte last November 23.
Proclamation 360 ordered the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and the government peace negotiators to stop all peace talks with the communist group for the latter’s alleged failure to show “sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peace negotiations as it engaged on acts of violence and hostilities, endangering the lives and properties of innocent people.”
Duterte was prompted to issue the order following the NPA ambush on a police patrol vehicle in Bukidnon last November 9 that left two dead, including four-month-old Walysha Machorao, and six people injured.
Last December 5, the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was designated as a terrorist organizations with Proclamation No. 374 signed by Duterte pursuant to Republic Act No. 10168, also known as the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2002. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)