Duterte threatens to stop taking in NPAs who surrender

In this December 12 file photo, members of the communist New People's Army surrender to authorities. John Unson, file

Duterte threatens to stop taking in NPAs who surrender
(Philstar.com) - August 26, 2018 - 3:51pm

MANILA, Philippines — The fate of the peace talks between the government and the communists remains uncertain as President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to "raise the bar" in the fight and no longer accept surrenderees.

Duterte castigated the New People's Army and communist party founder Jose Maria Sison for threatening him, saying they do not have enough forces to defeat government troops. 

"The NPAs are arrogant. These fools even threatened me. Sison claimed I am comatose. Fool. They do not have a Navy, an Army, a helicopter, CAFGU (militia) and Air Force. But they talk as if they are somebody. Don't believe them. They are only capable of conducting ambush," the president told troops in Sulu on Saturday. 

The New People's Army has been fighting a guerrilla war since 1969 in recognition of its lack of personnel and firepower to engage government troops in conventional warfare.

"But next time around, we will raise the bar higher...Sabi ko ‘pag magdating ang...wala ng surrender-surrender. P***** i**. Fight ka diyan hanggang mamatay ka. Hindi na mag-accept ng surrender. Pabalik-balik kayo," he added. 

(There will come a time, there will be no more surrenders. Son of a b****. Fight until you die. We won't accept surrenders anymore. You keep on returning)

Government's CLIP

The government has a surrender and reintegration program called the Comprehensive Local Intergration Program that gives former rebels financial assistance to help them rejoin mainstream society.

These surrenders, based on past reports, are done after negotiations and not on the battlefield.  

In March, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana claimed that more than 4,000 communists had already surrendered in the first quarter of 2018.

The Communist Party of the Philippines has played down the supposed surrenders and said in response that the supposed rebels who had given up outnumber the Armed Forces of the Philippines' estimate of the CPP-NPA's strength.

"So, 'Congratulations!' are in order for Lorenzana and Duterte, because, by June, they would have defeated the NPA at least two times over," the CPP said then.

Sison's coma claim

Sison claimed that Duterte was in a coma last week but the president denied this and claimed that the communist leader has cancer. Duterte had also called Sison a discredited leader and a freeloader who does not pay his hospital bills in the Netherlands. 

Duterte has promised to work for a settlement with the communist rebels who have been waging an armed struggle against the government for about 50 years. However, disagreements between the two sides have hampered the progress of the negotiations. 

The president canceled the formal talks slated for June supposedly to personally review the agreements signed by his predecessors and the communists.

Last month, Duterte said he has read the proposals of the rebels and claimed that it would lead to a coalition government, a power-sharing setup that he said is not allowed by the constitution. 

The government and the communists also have differences with regard to the venue of the talks.

Duterte wants the negotiation to be held in the Philippines but the National Democratic Front (NDF), the negotiating panel of communists, said ut should happen in a neutral territory. 

The two sides have also been trading accusations and have been blaming each other for the issues delaying the talks. 

RELATED: Government shifts to localized peace talks — Dureza

The Defense department had accused the communists of coming up with a three-year plan to oust Duterte but the NDF dismissed it as an "orchestrated" lie. 

Last month, Duterte said he was not discounting the possibility that the negotiations between the government and the communists may only resume after he steps down from office. 

"The communists — we will talk eventually whichever way you want it.  But we will talk in a matter of time. But I am quite tough," the President said in a speech in Zamboanga Sibugay last July 26. —  Alexis Romero

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