MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday called for the “neutralization” of communist rebels around the country, signifying dimming chances for the government and the communist National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to go back to the negotiating table.
Speaking to soldiers of the Philippine Army's 803rd Infantry Brigade in Catarman, Northern Samar, Duterte said the only way to solve the threat posed by communist rebels was to “neutralize” them.
“We are not into a crime prevention. Pati ‘yang pulis kasali na. It’s neutralization ang atin. Then, we can solve the problem,” Duterte said.
(We are not into crime prevention. Even the police are now involved. It's now neutralization. Then, we can solve the problem.)
“Neutralization na tayo ngayon… There is no crime prevention because the crime is being perpetrated 24 hours a day. So hindi mo kailangan magtanong pa kung may warrant-warrant diyan.”
(We are now on "neutralization" mode. There is no crime prevention because the crime is being perpetrated 24 hours a day. So you don't really need any warrant.)
Duterte also told soldiers to improve intelligence gathering.
“The best way is intelligence. Magbuhos kayo ng (pour everything on) intelligence,” he said.
“Then ‘pag nakuha niyo (once you have it), it’s neutralization. I will be criticized but I’m telling you, I am guiding you what is practical and what is true and legal. Legal ‘yan (that's legal).”
Duterte’s presidential bid was backed by communists due to his ties with Communist Party of the Philippines founding chair Jose Maria Sison, a former professor, and other local communist leaders.
He even appointed to his cabinet individuals with ties to the Left, who later were rejected by the Commission on Appointments, were fired, or decided to leave the administration.
But ties soured between the two sides after Duterte accused communist rebels last year of continuing their attacks against government troops despite ongoing peace talks.
Talks were repeatedly halted under Duterte. Another resumption was scheduled in late June but this was cancelled as the government sought to review all agreements entered into by the communists with past administrations.
The Duterte government then pushed for localized peace talks, but this was rejected by the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.