PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered government troops to "shoot and kill right away" communist rebels holding a gun, saying they were simply "bandits" without any ideology.
Duterte made the statement during the joint meeting of national and regional task forces to end local communist armed conflict (ELCAC) in Cagayan de Oro City on Friday, as he lamented that communist insurgents continue to commit criminal offenses, such as extortion, arson, rape, and murder.
Speaking in Visayan in his speech, Duterte said he would not allow the rebels to overthrow the government, "that's why I told the military and police that if the enemy is holding a gun during encounters, kill them. Kill them right away".
Duterte told the military to "ignore human rights". He said that it was his order and that he'll be the one "to go to jail".
The communist rebels’ ceaseless attacks against government troops and civilians have prompted Duterte to sign on Nov. 23, 2017 Proclamation 360, which formally scrapped the peace negotiations with the communist group’s political wing, the National Democratic Front.
The termination of the peace talks was followed by the Dec. 5, 2017 signing of Proclamation 274, classifying the communist movement’s armed wing, the New People’s Army, as a terror organization.
On Dec. 10, 2018, Duterte signed Executive Order 70, directing the National Task Force ELCAC to provide an efficient mechanism and structure for the implementation of the government’s whole-of-nation approach in ending insurgency and attaining inclusive and lasting peace.
In his latest speech, the President said he would stop the communists’ plan to topple his administration.
He reiterated his order to the military and the police to neutralize communist rebels, saying they were fighting a lost cause and could only "die for nothing."
"You are all bandits. You have no ideology. All communist countries, China and Russia, they are capitalists now," Duterte said.
Duterte said back then, communism "was used to control people because in a communist country, when you are told to move, you’ll move. The people then were really disciplined, the kind of discipline that’s forceful. It’s not the kind of discipline where one truly believes and follows the rules in order to live peacefully. That’s what I’m saying," he added.
If the rebels wanted to fight the government, the President said apart from soldiers and policemen, the government has "plenty of tanks" to defeat them.
Duterte claimed that leaders of the communist rebel group have earned "billions" from the extortion of businesses including the "malls" in Manila.
He said that some local businesses have no choice but to pay the group or risk bombings by the rebels.
The President said communist leaders were becoming rich while rebels were left to commit atrocities and die.
Duterte, who has vowed a relentless campaign against the armed rebels, also debunked the communists’ persistent claims that he was a fascist, maintaining that he would never resort to a one-man rule.
The President said he was confident that soldiers and policemen would not be fooled by the communist group’s false accusations against him.
Despite his war rhetoric, Duterte is still urging the rebels to lay down their arms, promising to give them livelihood and shelter.