Duterte to NPA: “Life is not a revolution”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 20 October) – President Rodrigo Duterte is frustrated by the entry of foreign corporations that lord it over the lands of the country but he told the New People’s Army (NPA) that they cannot always resort to killing to change things because “life is not a revolution.”

“Philippines is agriculture-based. We will really till the land even if we have to ask for help. I know that some lands are now owned by what we call foreign corporations and that hurts. I felt hurt by it too,” Duterte said in his speech at the inauguration of the Gaisano Grand Citygate Mall in Davao City on Friday.

In Cebuano, he said the NPAs must not force evolution through killing because life will “evolve by itself like a flower that will bloom on its own.”

PEACE. Members of the New People’s Army welcome Davao City Mayor and Presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte upon his arrival to receive Army Private First Class Edgardo Hilaga of the 7th Infantry Battallion in an upland village in Tulunan, North Cotabato on April 26, 2016. Hilaga was freed by the NPA after five days in captivity. This was the last time Duterte received a captive from the NPA. MindaNews file photo by TOTO LOZANO

The President reiterated his call to NPA members to surrender their arms to government not only for themselves but also their own children, claiming nothing will come out of their underground movement.

“Have pity on them. They won’t be able to move past just tilling land. But don’t worry,” he said.

Duterte said his government panel will no longer pursue the peace talks with the communist group but they can always approach local government units to seek help.

The Palace announced in July 2018 that LGUs can pursue localized peace talks with the NPA units operating within their respective communities in lieu of the peace talks between GRP and National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

The supposed June 28, 2018 resumption of the peace talks in Oslo, Norway was postponed to allow government to consult the “bigger table” and review the previously signed agreements.

But the President directed his government panel that the talks will proceed if the communist guerrillas will agree to stop the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax; the venue of the GRP-NDFP talks should be in the country; both parties should agree on a ceasefire agreement; and NPA members, the armed wing, are encamped in designated areas.

But NDFP in Southern Mindanao Region rejected the localized peace talks because it is better to support the peace negotiations of the government with the communists.

“The idea of peace negotiations that are ‘nationally orchestrated, centrally directed and locally supervised and implemented’ is but a smokescreen to obscure the fact that Duterte has never been serious in addressing the root causes of the Filipino people’s armed resistance and is only predisposed in the complete capitulation of the revolutionary movement,” NDFP-SMR spokesperson Rubi del Mundo said in a statement last July.

Duterte acknowledged the support of the NPAs that helped him win the 2016 presidential elections. He asked them to help him find “a way for all of us to live,” not necessarily to become rich.

Duterte promised a house and job each for NPA guerrillas who surrender. He said he will have them undergo training at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to learn new skills.

Duterte vowed to give away all government-owned lands to the people, including members of the NPA as he did in Boracay that was closed to tourists for a six-month rehabilitation.

“I ordered the Secretary of Agrarian Reform to distribute government-owned lands to the people and even the NPAs… What I did so that the poor people will not be shortchanged is declare land reform over a portion of Boracay. It will be given to the natives,” he said.

The President, who served as mayor of Davao City for 22 years, said the city prospered owing to a peaceful environment.

He emphasized that a city will never prosper with chaos.

“You know, if a certain place is chaotic like what happened before, there were killings here and there…. we will never prosper,” he said.(Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)