President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, October 2, ordered the “neutralization” of the New People’s Army (NPA). He said that the communist rebels have done nothing for the country except to kill civilians and lawmen, and engage in extortion activities.
“We are not into a crime prevention. Pati ‘yang pulis kasali na. It’s neutralization ang atin. Then, we can solve the problem. (We are not into crime prevention. Even the police are now involved. It’s now neutralization. Then, we can solve the problem),” Duterte said in a speech at the Camp Juan Ponce Sumuroy (CJPS) in Catarman, Northern Samar.
According to him, a person commits the crimes of rebellion 24 hours a day once he or she joins the NPA.
“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),” he said.
Duterte also said that amping up intelligence efforts is the best way to get things to work in the military’s favor.
“The best way is intelligence. Magbuhos kayo ng intelligence. Then pag nakuha niyo, 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. (The best way is intelligence. Put everything into intelligence. Then when you get 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. That’s legal),” he said.
Duterte also repeated his vow not to let soldiers go to jail for performing their duty.
“’Pag lumaban at tingin mo buhay mo nakakasa na, shoot first. Iyan ang utos ko. Huwag kang mag-alala. Pag ‘yan ang circumstances, nandiyan ako sa’yo. At hindi ako papayag makulong kayo maski isang araw, maniwala kayo. Away ‘yan. Pilitin nila kayong i-preso, ah away ‘yan. Sabihin ko, ‘Iyan ang utos ko. Ang unang mapreso ako, hindi ‘yang sundalo ko.’ Kaya ‘yan ang utos ko, neutralization. And that is the best way how to handle the problem now. (If they fight back and you feel like your life is at stake, shoot first. That’s my order. Don’t worry. If those are the circumstances, I’ve got you. And I will not let you go to jail even for a day, believe me. They’re going to have a fight on their hands. If they insist on sending you to jail, they’ll have a fight. I’ll tell them, “Those are my orders. I will go to jail, not my soldiers.” So that’s my order, neutralization. And that is the best way how to handle the problem now),” he said.
Ties between the government and communist rebels soured after Duterte accused communist rebels last year of continuing their attacks against government troops despite ongoing peace talks.
Talks were supposed to resume in June in Norway but halted when Duterte called it off to give way to public consultations and review of existing agreements.
The Duterte administration tried to push for localized peace talks, but was rejected by the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.