PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte declared Thursday that the government is ready to wage war with the communists for another 50 years after condemning a New People’s Army ambush that killed four policemen and wounded a fifth in Bansalan, Davao del Sur.
On Wednesday, hours after the ambush, NPA rebels went on a rampage at a village in Pagadian City, killing three civilians.
“There will be no peace talks for the meantime,” Duterte said in an interview after visiting the wake of the slain policemen. “I will ask the military and the police to wage war against them.”
“I will allow them to use all available assets. Use rockets,” he said.
He said the communists would never gain power because the people did not want them to.
Duterte said he has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to use all its assets, including newly acquired jets, and drop bombs on the rebels.
“Go ahead, flatten the hills,” he added. “Look at what you have done. Look at how the people responded.”
He said it was no longer viable to talk with the rebels because “they’re diverting issues in the talks, they’re muddling the talks” and waging a revolution based on “ideological cannibalism.”
“It’s a question of honor. We fight a war and as the revolutionary ideology would put it, it’s a kind of ideological cannibalism because you devour your own kind. You kill your own brother and sisters on the altar of a revolution ... Because it is a war among Filipinos, your countrymen,” he added.
The Palace on Thursday said that the deaths of four policemen ambushed by the NPA might derail efforts to revive the stalled peace talks even as top National Democratic Front consultants flew to Europe Wednesday night in an attempt to start backchannel talks with the government.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the killing of the four policemen could set back efforts to restart the negotiations.
The slain policemen were identified as Police Officer 1 (PO1) Rolly Benelayo, PO1 Joe Narvaza, PO1 Saro Mangutara, belonging to the Bansalan Municipal Police Station, and PO3 Jayden May Rabor of the Scene of the Crime Operations of Digos City. Another policeman, PO3 Allen Arnado, was wounded.
Duterte earlier opened up the possibility of reviving the stalled peace talks, but has laid down three “requests” before any negotiation can proceed: A genuine ceasefire done in sincerity, the release of all soldiers and civilians being held captive by the NPA, and a stop to NPA extortion activities.
“They have to release all policemen, army, everyone from the government. They should release them all. Second, they should stop asking for revolutionary tax. Third, they should stop asking for things. They’re burning a lot of things now and we’ll never meet each other half way if that’s the case,” Duterte said on March 4.
On Tuesday, Duterte said the government was in backchannel talks with the communists after terminating the peace talks in February.
In a news briefing, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed that NDF consultants Benito and William Tiamzon and Victor Ladlad were leading the back-channeling efforts with Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza, who left the country for Europe Wednesday.
“Last night, we allowed the departure of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon and Mr. Ladlad to do some back-channeling,” Lorenzana said.
Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno condemned the NPA ambush in Bansalan.
Sueno said the policemen were heading to the hinterland village of Barangay Sibayan in Bansalan to investigate a murder when they were fired upon at about 6 a.m.
“I am deeply saddened by this unfortunate and needless incident that took away the lives of our policemen. My heart bleeds for the families of the victims and, as a father, they have my word that I will look after them,” said Sueno.
The Interior secretary said he has already directed the Philippine National Police to give priority to the investigation of the case and ensure that the perpetrators will face the consequences of their actions.
“I have clear instructions to our chief PNP to respond accordingly and deliver swift action against the suspects who are allegedly members of a lawless armed group. Our police force will get to the bottom of this case,” he said.
He reminded the police to never let their guard down, especially when they are deployed outside of their stations.
In Zamboanga City, Supt. Rogelio Alabata, spokeman for the provincial police office said three civilians, indentified as Alipio Banogon Andus, 39, Ariston Obaran Paroc, 46, and Julieto Bolo Candao, were killed at about 5 p.m.
The NPA claimed responsibility for the killings.
The Philippine National Police condemned the latest attack on police crime scene investigators.
“The trademark of ruthless treachery, patented by the CPP-NPA, has reared its ugly head again in this latest attack against a non-tactical police team of laboratory technicians and technical specialists who, by the nature of their functions, are non-combatants.” said Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos, PNP spokesman.
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