President dares Joma Sison to return home and fight war
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to file criminal charges against members of the New People’s Army (NPA) for their extortion activities, as he dared Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), to leave the comforts of European exile and join his fighters back home.
“I dare you, as leader of the Communist Party, I dare you, come home and fight your war here. Kasi ako nandito.
Gusto mo tayong dalawa [Because I’m here. You want us to fight]?” Duterte said in Negros Oriental on Thursday
Sison, who is in the Netherlands, suggested that Duterte consult a psychiatrist after the President claimed in his second State of the Nation Address that the CPP founder had colon cancer. Sison denied this and called on Duterte to disclose his own health woes.
Duterte said he no longer wanted a war of words with Sison, his college professor.
He said he would order the filing of criminal cases against the NPA, the armed wing of the CPP with whom the government is engaged in peace talks.
“Revolutionary tax, that’s extortion. So for me, I do not deal with revolutionary tax. That is plain extortion. To the police and military, when you make a report, [use]extortionist or kidnappers. And we will file cases [against the NPA]as a kidnapper or as an extortion[ist]– as a [robber],” Duterte said.
The President took issue with the term “revolutionary tax,” used by the rebels to describe monetary demands on businesses.
“Today I am directing the Armed Forces and the police not to use the word ‘revolutionary tax.’ That is not a proper word to, for us to adopt kasi ang gobyerno na ito, may taxation [because the government has taxation]. So, huwag ninyong tapatan ng [do not use]revolutionary tax. Use the word ‘extortion,’ ‘hold-upper,’ or ‘kidnapper.’ At idemanda ko kayo sa Revised Penal Code [And we’ll file a case under the Revised Penal Code],” he said.
The President also said he would ask Congress to pass the National Security Code to give the government more muscle in averting threats to national security.
“Fifty years ago and you want another 50 years of fighting and killing Filipinos. Mga kababayan ko, `yan ang gusto ng mga New People’s Army. Wala na, another 50 years tayo ng patayan [To my fellow countrymen, that’s what the New People’s Army wants. Nothing more, it’s another 50 years of killing],” Duterte said.
“And I am going to ask Congress to pass a national security code. Ang natatakot lang naman diyan `yung kalaban ng gobyerno [Those who are afraid of it are the enemies of the government]. If you are a peace-loving Filipino, [why would you be afraid]?” he added.
Duterte in his second State of the Nation Address on Monday declared there would be no more peace talks with the communist rebels. He said communist rebels would be the government troops’ next targets as soon as the armed conflict in Marawi City ends.
A fifth round of talks, initially scheduled in August, was cancelled after the NPA ambushed members of the Presidential Security Group in North Cotabato, wounding four of Duterte’s security aides.
Despite this, Duterte clarified that he did not hold any grudge against the NPA rebels.
“I take it as one of the heartaches. Pero wala akong galit kasi kung maaari lang ayaw ko ngang makipag-away sa kanila [But I do not harbor any ill feelings. If possible, I do not want to pick a fight with them]…If there’s just a way out, I do not have to kill my fellow Filipinos. It’s really painful to see any dead NPA or a Moro who is a Filipino,” Duterte said.
“Talagang nasasaktan ako. Mas lalo na kung sundalo ko pati pulis ko [I’m really hurt, especially when a soldier or a policeman is killed]. Because to me, it’s a crazy war. You do not have to die every time,” he added.
The President even said he was willing to include communist rebels in the security forces, if they heed to his call to surrender to the authorities.
“To the NPA, just surrender to your barangay (village) captain. Your barangay captain will accompany you to any police or military. Bigyan ko kayo ng trabaho. Gawain kitang sundalo. [I will give you job. I will make you my soldier],” he said.
On Friday, two clashes were reported by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in the Bicol region and in Northern Luzon.
In Sorsogon province in Bicol, an officer and three others were killed by the NPA while in Pangasinan, a policeman was killed and three more were wounded while patrolling the mountainous area of the province.
Four NPA members were also killed in the Sorsogon clash, according to Inspector Joseph Millarez, Casiguran town police chief. One of those killed was Andres Hubilla alias Bunso, an alleged NPA leader. Hubilla was the former secretary of the CPP/NPA provincial committee and member of the Bicol Regional Party Committee, a police report said.
Hubilla is facing rebellion, murder and attempted murder charges in Sorsogon City, the police said.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, the AFP’s public affairs chief, said the recent clashes was only a “reflection” of what had happened even before the President gave his second SONA.
“[The attacks] prompted the President to declare an all-out war against the NPA rebels,” Arevalo told The Manila Times in a phone interview.
But according to Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesman, the frequency of attacks initiated by the NPA “have not increased significantly.”
“In fact, the AFP has had many initiatives that successfully prevented violent plans of these bandits from the succeeding,” Padilla said.
Padilla said communist rebels have degenerated into a “group of bandits whose sole preoccupation is extortion.”
WITH DEMPSEY REYES AND RHAYDZ B. BARCIA