Duterte renews calls for NPA rebels to surrender

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 December) – President Rodrigo Duterte renewed Monday his call for members of the New People’s Army (NPA) to surrender, weeks after giving peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) another shot.

In a speech during his visit to the earthquake-affected families in M’lang, Cotabato, Duterte said members of the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), could become “useful” if they surrender and contribute to the development of the country, particularly in the booming construction industry.

He said that many skilled workers, such as electricians, plumbers and construction workers, have been leaving the country to work in the Middle East because of higher salary, leaving the local construction industry with insufficient manpower to complete private and government projects.

“Kailangan ko kayong mga NPA. Hindi sa patayan, wala akong makuha kung patayin kita, may mas silbi kayo sa bayan kung magtulungan tayo (I need you NPA. But not in killing, I will get nothing if I kill you. You will be useful to the country if we help each other),” he said.

Duterte claimed a number of NPA rebels had surrendered since he assumed the presidency on June 30, 2016.

The President promised to provide those who will surrender with a house and lot, employment and free education at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

“Maraming nag susurrender, marami talaga ang bumababa. Magsama na lang tayo, may pera ang gobyerno. Pagdating ninyo dito sa baba, pagawaan ko kayo ng mga condo, tapos mag aral kayo sa TESDA (Many have surrendered, many have come down. Let’s join together, the government has money. When you get down here, I will build you a condo, and then you study at TESDA),” he said.

Early this month, Duterte, during a visit to typhoon-hit Legaspi City in Albay, revealed that he ordered Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the chief government negotiator in talks with the communists, to talk with Jose Maria Sison, CPP founding chair and NDFP chief political consultant, regarding the possible resumption of peace negotiations.

Duterte cancelled peace talks with the NDFP, the CPP’s political arm, then slated on November 25 to 27, 2017 through Proclamation 360. He cited their “lack of sincerity” due to their continuing offensives against government troops.

The President subsequently signed Proclamation 374, designating the CPP and the NPA as terrorist organizations.