DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 Feb) — Government forces will deal with the ISIS-inspired groups and the New People’s Army (NPA) like how the military and the police “reacted during the Marawi siege,” President Rodrigo Duterte said.
“And for the communists, no quarters given, no quarters asked,” Duterte told a press briefing at the Matina Enclaves here on Friday, as he offered Lumads (Indigenous Peoples) 20,000 pesos for every NPA guerilla killed. .
Duterte brought up the issue of terrorism, following his order to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to cut the country’s multi-billion dollar deal with Canada for 16 Bell helicopters after it called for a review on the transaction for fear the helicopters might be used against terrorists and rebels. Duterte also told the military not to buy equipment from the United States, because like Canada, conditions are imposed on sales.
He added he respects the stand of Canada but the military also needs the new equipment as the dreaded global terrorist ISIS “is contaminating the locals.”
“Kasi sabi nila, magpabili lang sila sa atin but only for evacuation and emergency, hindi natin pwede gamitin ‘yung para sa anti-insurgency (Because they said, they can only sell to us if it’s used for evacuation and emergency, we cannot use them against anti-insurgency) because if it is used against the Filipino rebels, hindi nila ibigay (they can’t sell to us),” he said.
Duterte said that if the helicopters would be used in wars, then it will be used to carry his dead soldiers.
He said the military needs the helicopters to finish off the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Duterte said he will look for other suppliers of guns and helicopters because he might as well surrender the government to terrorists if he cannot use the new equipment against them.
“That’s the logic, but I said, I do not question your logic, your logic is your logic, my logic is mine, it’s based on the reality on the ground,” Duterte said.
The Islamic State-inspired Maute Group occupied Marawi City on May 23, 2017 in an attempt to establish a caliphate in the Islamic city. The attack prompted Duterte to respond by placing Mindanao under martial law deploying all branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in operations against the Maute Group and its allies.
The daily air strikes for five months left a city in rubble.
P20,000 per head
Duterte said the Lumads who are affected by insurgency problem can live near the military camps and offered to pay them P20,000 for every NPA guerrilla killed.
The President said he is also willing to have Lumads undergo training to become Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) members and give them “firearms and go out and hunt for those who killed their comrades.”
“If you got one NPA, I said also, I will pay you. Isang NPA mapatay ninyo, kayong mga Lumad na maging CAFGU, (One NPA rebel you kill, you Lumads who will become CAFGU. I’ll pay you… you want money? I’ll give you money,” he said, adding “I will make it 20,000 per head. Sige. Marami mang pera ang gobyerno. Kung magbayad kayo ng tax ninyo mas lalong marami ako.” (Go. Governent has plenty of money. And it will have more money if you pay taxes).
In a statement on February 8, Rev. Daniel R. Palicte, vice chair of the Solidarity Action Group for Indigenous Peoples and Peasants (Sagipp), said they are alarmed that Duterte is turning communities in the Davao Region into another Marawi.
Palicte also lamented Duterte’s statement that he will select investors for the Lumad areas.
He said Lumads have been intimidated by coercion to “surrender as NPA rebels” and threats of bombing and destroying villages, farms and Lumad schools.
“This paradigm of development by Duterte implemented by the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command is incongruous to the demands of the Lumads for the preservation and development of their ancestral lands and the peasants’ call for agrarian reform,” he said.
He said the “government paradigm is repeating the carnage they left in Marawi” that displaced over 300,000 residents.
“Is this government paradigm of peace and development reflective of what the Lumads and peasants want?” Palicte asked.
Farmers and Lumads fear they are losing their very source of life.
“Sagipp believes that the lifeblood of any country is in the protection of its resources and its people who provide us with food, sustenance and cultural identity. The country, our region needs food more than profits and bombs,” he said.
Talks called off
On November 23, 2017, Duterte issued Proclamation 360, which halted the scheduled fifth round of peace talks with the National Democratic Front on November 25 to 27 in Oslo Norway.
Proclamation 360 ordered the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza and the government peace negotiators to stop all peace talks with the communist group for allegedly failing 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.”
On December 5, 2017, Duterte issued Proclamation No. 374 designating the NPA and the CPP as terrorist organizations pursuant to RA No. 10168, also known as the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2002.
Duterte urged the rebels, in his previous speeches, to lay down arms and go back to the government fold. He promised to provide livelihood support and employment opportunities. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)