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Duterte to AFP: Crush terrorists, NPA

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
Duterte to AFP: Crush terrorists, NPA
President Duterte watches troops in formation during the 84th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines held at Camp Aguinaldo yesterday.
Krizjohn Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — Days after his latest peace overture with communist rebels, President Duterte has ordered the military to crush all terror groups that he said should include the New People’s Army (NPA).

“Another enemy that’s ruining lives is the terrorists, including the NPA, the kidnap-for-ransom, and the Abu Sayyaf in Jolo. My order is, if they fight, crush them to put an end to Filipinos’ problem,” Duterte said in Filipino in his speech before military officers and personnel at the 84th anniversary celebration of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) yesterday at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Early this month, Duterte said he was giving peace talks another chance and again designated Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to iron out differences with leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines to set the stage for formal negotiations.

The government and the rebel group have yet to agree on the venue for the talks as well as goodwill measures that can jumpstart the talks.

In his speech, Duterte reiterated his resolve to end the drug menace.

“We are fighting a war and mind you, let me correct every Tom, Dick and Harry who are idiots, by their name, you should know them. You know, we are fighting for the survival of our nation,” he said.

“We have to make safe – we have to assure that the next generation will be freed of these vagaries of life, especially itong droga (drugs) for it will affect the quality of our nation tomorrow,” the President said.

Duterte, who is facing a complaint before the International Criminal Court for alleged extrajudicial killings in the conduct of his war on drugs, again justified the campaign that he had promised to conclude successfully in his first year in office. He would later admit he has failed to meet his target.

“And that is why I declared war. War is war. Itong droga (Drugs) is worldwide. It is not limited to any country with borders. It is almost seamless. At lahat nagdudusa (Everyone is suffering),” the President said.

“We cannot afford to get something like one-fourth of the population disoriented, insane because of drugs. It is our sworn duty to protect them,” he said.

During the brief ceremonies, Duterte also noted the versatility of every soldier in helping the people in times of both manmade and natural disasters.

“If there is disorder, they establish order. If there is a lawless environment, they provide stability. Ang sundalo natin, itong mga sundalo, they are everything and that is why you should love your soldier. Tayong mga Pilipino, tulungan natin (We Filipinos, let us help them),” he said.

Duterte maintained that the AFP has proven that it can always be depended on, especially during the recent earthquakes and flooding that killed scores, especially in Mindanao and the Visayas.

Selfless service

“Know that for your selfless service during these times of need, the entire nation will be grateful,” he said.

Duterte also said the fight of every soldier should always include one against corruption.

Earlier, the President had ordered the deployment of Marines to the Bureau of Customs to deal with alleged rampant under-the-table transactions in the bureau.

“As this administration continues to intensify efforts to eradicate the ills that still plague our society, I trust that the AFP will also fight corruption within its halls through internal reforms that will not only improve the financial state of our soldiers, but also develop their character, competence and capacity to fulfill their mandate,” the President said.

Meanwhile, defense chief Delfin Lorenzana said the government is finalizing the procurement of BraHmos supersonic missile from India.

He said a contract for procurement is expected to be ready by early next year. The Indian-made missile is considered the fastest missile in the service of any military.

BraHmos missile will provide the AFP with much needed deterrent capability in line with its ongoing modernization program, Lorenzana said.

The weapon is a product of a joint venture between a Russian defense company and India’s Defence Research and Development Organization. Its speed is up to Mach 3 with a maximum range of 290 kilometers.

The missile can carry a 200-kilo warhead for both ship- and land-based vehicle while its aircraft-launched variant can carry 300 kilos warhead.

Initially, Lorenzana said he was eyeing procurement of at least two batteries for the missile.

The AFP’s modernization program comes amid China’s expanding military activities in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea, especially its deployment of naval warships and its building of island fortresses within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Lorenzana said they were still evaluating if the supersonic missile that the country plans to acquire would be assigned to the Philippine Army or the Philippine Air Force.

The Air Force is already using FA-50 fighter jets, mostly acquired from South Korea. India’s production and deployment of BraHmos have rattled China. -With Jaime Laude

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