MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday threatened to bomb schools built for the Lumad, saying they are violating laws for spreading subversive ideas.
Duterte issued the threats as he linked the Lumad schools to the communist rebels, whom he has tagged as enemies of the state for attacking state troops.
“Iyung mga Lumad, they are operating without the DepEd’s permit. Kasi eskwelahan sila, but they are teaching subversion, communism,” Duterte said in a news conference after his State of the Nation Address.
“Umalis kayo dyan, sabihin ko sa mga Lumad. Bobombahan ko iyan, isali ko iyang mga istraktura. I will use the Philippine Air Force. You are operating illegally and you are teaching the children to rebel against government. Kung may kalokohan kayo, eh di mas lalo na ako,” he added.
The plight of the Lumad was highlighted by the September 2015 killings of Emerito Samarca, a head teacher of an award-winning school for Lumad youth in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo by paramilitary forces.
Lumad groups, some of whom are based in Duterte’s home region, have pinned their hopes of justice and fair treatment on the firebrand leader, a self-proclaimed socialist.
However, the atmosphere has changed significantly now as the feisty leader seemed to have had enough of the communists, who are being associated with Lumad groups.
Ending the decades-old communist insurgency has been a top priority for Duterte, but talks have been on and off under the feisty leader, who has accused the communists of being "two-faced" because of their continued armed attacks against government forces.
The President has also lambasted the rebels for collecting “revolutionary taxes” from businesses.
The friction between Duterte and communist leaders also went up another level when the President placed the entire Mindanao under martial law to address the terror threat posed by Islamist extremists.
Duterte said his government will focus on decimating the communist rebels once state troops are done dealing with Islamist extremists sowing terror in Mindanao.
To achieve this, he said he will pour in more funds for the modernization of the Armed Forces.
He said he wants to purchase equipment such as drones and high-powered firearms to make soldiers more efficient in the battlefield.
“We must have a strong republic to withstand all threats and challenges. Today’s reality demands an Armed Forces that is strong,” he said.
“You can expect after two years a very strong Armed Forces.”