AN exasperated President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday reiterated that his government would no longer talk peace with communist rebels if they do not stop attacks on government troops, even confronting leftists rallying outside the Batasang Pambansa complex where he delivered his second State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Still smarting after being branded a “bully” by the communist political arm, the National Democratic Front (NDF), Duterte hurled expletives and tagged the communist rebels as enemies of the state who deserved to be bullied.
“I used to be friends with the NDF,” Duterte said. “Times have changed because God placed me here. Bully daw ako [They say I’m a bully]. T*******o pala kayo, talagang bully ako. P****g i*a. Talagang bully ako [I’m really a bully] especially to the enemies of the state.”
The President particularly cited last week’s attack on the Presidential Security Group in Arakan, North Cotabato by the New People’s Army, the communists’ armed wing, in which a militiaman was killed.
“My police are being ambushed every day. They’d kill even me, that’s my convoy vehicle. They used a machine gun, but it was armored,” he said in Filipino.
“Kayong mga Left, I will not talk to you. Why should I?” the President added.
During his first SONA on July 25, 2016, Duterte announced a unilateral ceasefire with the communists. The government and the communist leaders were able to meet four times in the Netherlands.
On July 20, Duterte said the government peace panel would no longer push through with peace negotiations with the communists after the NPA staged a string of attacks against government forces.
The President also declared an all-out war against the communist rebels, saying security troops were prepared to fight them for “another 50 years.”
In an angry response to the government’s plan to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2017, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) asked the NPA to launch “armed counteractions and offensives” across the country.
In his second SONA, Duterte defended martial rule, calling it the “fastest way to quell the rebellion” in Mindanao.
He also claimed that CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison is gravely ill.
“Ikaw Sison, ‘t***n a.’ Matanda ka na. Buong Pilipinas nakikinig. Kayong mga bata ito, matanda na ito. Sison is sick. May colon cancer (he has colon cancer).”
However, Sison, who is based in The Netherlands, denied the President’s claim. “Colon cancer lang ang issue niya (Colon cancer is his only issue). It is imaginary,” Sison said in an online interview.
After his speech, the President met with militant groups holding a protest action outside Batasang Pambansa.
On a stage put up by protesters, he told them to just go home because they would get nothing from the communist movement.
Duterte also blasted urban poor group Kadamay, an organization associated with the Left, for sowing anarchy by occupying houses in Bulacan intended for policemen.
“Sumobra itong Left e. Gawa ka ng bahay, nakawin [The Left went out of bounds. You build homes, they steal them],” he said. “You do anarchy, I will order the police to shoot. Even If I have to bury thousands of Filipinos. Let us understand this: either we have laws in this country or we don’t. I will also enforce laws against anarchy.”
To avoid violence, government had decided to let members of the urban poor group occupy the houses, and Duterte promised to build bigger and better housing units for the policemen.
In his SONA, the President said he will deploy more troops to face the threats posed by communists.
“From now own I will save money for the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” he said, adding that he will also give the military better firearms.
“The Red insurgency has been with us for decades, the Muslim issue for centuries. So much time has lapsed. So many lives have been lost. Peace eludes us still,” he lamented. “Sometimes I’m almost tempted to conclude that peace might not be able to come during our lifetime. But believe me it will not be for want of trying.”
“I hope that peace continues… [To communists], look beyond your biases, your prejudices, your ambition [and]your political agenda. The search for change will begin and end only when we look into ourselves and find it within.”
with BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO