MANILA - The defense sector will continue to brand the New People's Army (NPA) as "communist terrorists" for as long as they commit acts of kidnapping, arson, and extortion, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday.
"Ganun naman talaga ang tawag namin noon pa eh (That's how we've called them from back then). [In the] 1970s, '80s, '90s, communist terrorists ," Lorenzana said.
"Habang sila ay gumagawa ng mga (For as long as they commit) terroristic acts like burning, kidnapping, extorting money, which are actually the work of terrorists... Tinatawag lang naman namin sila sa ginagawa nila (We just brand them based on what they do)," Lorenzana said.
"Kung itigil nila 'yan, then we will change siguro, gawin namin silang insurgents lang or NPA (New People's Army) (If they stop, then we will probably change, perhaps we will call them insurgents or NPA). But while they are doing all those things, we will not stop calling them terrorists," he said.
Lorenzana again reiterated that the Philippine government will in no way engage in talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA- National Democratic Front) until these acts are stopped.
The government has just resumed talks with the rebels this week in the Netherlands.
"Ibig sabihin, habang nakikipag-usap sila, ceasefire, manununog pa rin sila? Mangongotong pa rin sila? (Does it mean that, while we're negotiating, while there's a ceasefire, they will continue the burning? They will still commit extortion?) I think that's not right," Lorenzana said.
"Kung makikipag-usap sila, itigil nilang lahat yung kanilang ginagawa (If they want to talk, they should stop those activities), then we talk," Lorenzana said.
He said such acts do no good.
"Paano sila makakatulong kung susunugin nila yung mga bulldozer? Susunugin nila yung buses? Yung packing area ng sagingan? (How can they help if they burn down the bulldozer? The buses? The packing area at a banana plantation?)," the defense chief said.
"Is that helping us? It's not! Itigil lang nila 'yon (They should just stop that)," he added.
At the start of his term in office, President Duterte has vowed to end the communist insurgency in the Philippines, Asia's longest-running leftist resistance.