As part of his heightened crackdown on communist insurgency in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte is bent on offering monetary rewards to soldiers for killing New People’s Army (NPA) members, a Palace official said.
In a television interview, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Duterte was “serious” about the bounty offer, saying this was part of a “psy-war” following the pronouncement of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison that their 50 guerilla fronts would kill one soldier a day.
“On the counter-insurgency, the President is serious on everything he says in a bid to flush out CPP-NPA-NDF,” Andanar said.
The NDF is the National Democratic Front, the communist arm for peace talks with the government.
He said Duterte was also trying to “incentivize” Lumad or members of Mindanao’s indigenous peoples who were part of government paramilitary forces.
“So what the President is really saying is that the campaign of the government against the NPA is continuing. Now it (bounty offer) is just a way of incentivizing the Lumad,” Andanar said.
“So I think that it’s really psy-war game also,” the Palace official added.
Duterte, in a speech delivered during his visit to Cebu on February 12, said he was willing to pay P25,000 to anyone who would kill an NPA rebel.
The President’s offer was raised from the previous P20,000 he dangled to the Lumad for each communist guerilla killed.
“They (communists) said, ‘Kill one soldier a day.’ Me? Kill one NPA today and I will pay you P25,000,” Duterte said during his meeting with local chief executives from the Visayas and Mindanao held at Raddison Blu Hotel in Cebu City.
Unfazed by Sison’s warning, the firebrand President on February 7 gave the military a green light to kill five NPA insurgents for every government soldier killed.
The acrimony between the government and the communists stems from the NPA’s persistent attacks against state forces while the two parties were in talks for a peace pact.
Last year, Duterte signed two proclamations that formally scrapped the peace negotiations. The CPP and NPA were declared terrorist organizations.