MANILA — Communist terrorists do not have the right to assert ownership over areas they develop as their lairs, President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday.
Duterte issued the statement, as he slammed the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) for its relentless attacks against the government troops and civilians, despite his efforts to pursue peace and development in the country.
In his speech delivered in Pigcawayan, Cotabato, Duterte vented his frustrations that over 50 years since the insurgency problem emerged, communist insurgents continue to “pull the country down.”
“No isang barangay, hindi naman ninyo na-occupy. Puro kayo patay dito, ambush doon sa mga sundalo ko. Tapos sabihin ninyo pumasok sila sa teritoryo namin. Wala kayong teritoryo dito (You cannot even occupy a village. You just kill and ambush my soldiers. Then you claim they go to your territory. You do not have any territory). Let me be clear on that,” Duterte said, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Commander-in-Chief.
“Wala kayong masabing inyo (You cannot say you own anything). This is the Republic of the Philippines,” he added.
Despite the holiday truce between the state forces and the communists from Dec. 23, 2019 to Jan. 7, NPA rebels carried out three strings of attacks against the police and military personnel.
In December last year, the President was open to the idea of reviving the talks with the communist movement.
Duterte formally scrapped the peace talks between state peace negotiators and consultants of CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), through the issuance of Proclamation 360 on Nov. 23, 2017.
Before resuming the peace negotiations, Duterte wanted to hold a dialogue with CPP founder Jose Maria Sison without the presence of a peace panel from both the national government and the NDF.
On Jan. 2, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Sison, who has been in self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987, should seize the opportunity to hold a one-on-one meeting with Duterte so they would have the chance to discuss the possible revival of peace talks.
Duterte maintained that the communists would only lose the battle, should they decline to resume the dialogue with his administration.
“Alam mo, itong NPA, huwag kayong… Hindi manalo iyan, not within a thousand years (You know, the NPA will never win, not within a thousand years),” he said.
“Puro gulo lang iyan. Fifty-three years now, walang ginawa kundi (They only know how to launch a war. Fifty-three years now, they have done nothing but) to pull the country down,” Duterte added.
He also signed on Dec. 5, 2017, Proclamation 374, which tags the CPP-NPA as a terror organization.
The CPP-NPA has also been branded as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.