President Rodrigo Duterte has branded the New People’s Army (NPA) as “bandits,” saying they don’t have an ideology and are using the poor to extort and steal money.
The President ranted at NPA rebels, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), excusing them of killing innocent people and extorting money from the poor.
“You are all bandits. You don’t have an ideology,” Duterte said during the meeting of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in Cagayan de Oro City Friday.
Meanwhile, Duterte instructed the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to speed up the distribution of land in areas that remain hotbeds for communist insurgency to eliminate the rebels’ influence. Vito Barcelo
In his speech, Duterte said he wants to see the completion of the distribution of the land titles before his term ends.
“I hope that you will be able to distribute it before my term ends. Something to do, leave behind. Thank you. I will give away all 400,000 (hectares),” he said.
The government has so far distributed more than 2,100 hectares in the Northern Mindanao region alone, which has been the President’s policy to distribute idle government-owned lands.
Duterte said he ordered DAR to prioritize the hotbeds of communist insurgency to address the issue.
Addressing the rebels, the President said they should stop pretending about having their own government in areas where they operate.
With less than two years in office, Duterte vowed he would not allow himself to be defeated by the communist movement. He reiterated his order to the military and the police to neutralize communist rebels.
“Why would you make us believe that you are government? Where is your hospital? Where are your ambulances? Where are your treasurers?” Duterte said.
The President belittled the communist movement’s capacity to wrest political power. “How can you topple government? I won’t allow you to topple government.”
Duterte urged communist fighters to lay down their firearms and rejoin mainstream society, luring them with offers of jobs, houses and opportunities for education and skills training.
“I can give you houses when you surrender. The houses are ready, there is always room for you to seek shelter,” he said.
Duterte remains optimistic that communist rebels would abandon the armed struggle and return to the fold of the law. Vito Barcelo