PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday warned of filing criminal charges against members of the New People’s Army, in connection with their alleged extortion activities.
In a chance interview in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, the President said he would order the filing of possible criminal cases against the NPA rebels.
“Revolutionary tax, that’s extortion. So for me, I do not deal with the revolutionary tax. It’s plain extortion. To the police and military, when you make a report, [use] extortionists or kidnappers and we will file cases [against the NPA],” Duterte said after his wake visit to six slain policemen reportedly killed by NPA bandits in Guihulngan City.
“Today, I’m directing the armed forces and the police not to use the word revolutionary tax. That’s not the proper word for us to adopt because the government has taxation. So do not use revolutionary tax. Use extortion, hold-upper, kidnapper and we’ll file a case under Revised Penal Code,” he added.
Duterte made the pronouncement amid the cancellation of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) following the series of attacks launched by its armed wing, NPA, against the government forces.
The fifth round of talks, which was initially scheduled in August, was scrapped after the NPA ambushed the members of Presidential Security Group in North Cotabato, wounding four of Duterte’s security aides.
The Chief Executive said that he would ask Congress to pass National Security Code to avert any activities that might undermine the national security.
“Fifty years, 50 years ago and you want another 50 years of fighting and killing Filipinos. To my fellow countrymen, that’s what the NPA wanted. Nothing more, it’s another 50 years of killing,” Duterte said.
“I’m going to ask Congress [to pass] a National Security Code. Those who are just afraid of it are the enemies of the government. If you’re a peace-loving Filipino, [why would you be afraid]?” he added.
Despite the latest developments, the Chief Executive clairified that he does not hold any grude against the NPA rebels.
Duterte even reiterated that he is willing to include the communist rebels in the security forces, if they heed to his call that they surrender to the authorities.
“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 that 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. I’m really hurt, especially when a soldier or a policeman is killed. To me, it’s a crazy war. You do not have to die every time,” he said.
“To the NPA, just surrender to your barangay captain. Your barangay captain will accompany you to any police or military. I will give you job. I will automatically make you my soldier. I will make them my soldiers. I will induct them,” he added.
Duterte wants Sison to return to PH
Meanwhile, the President issued a scathing remark against CPP founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison, who is on self-exile in the Netherlands.
Amid the heated arguments between the two, Duterte called on Sison, who he branded as “coward,” to return to the Philippines and fight with him "squarely."
This was Duterte’s call to Sison after the latter challenged him to explain his public disappearances in June.
“Jose Maria Sison was questioning my absence. My God, you know I was questioning him: If you are truly a revolutionary leader, my God, come home and fight here. All these years, you’re hiding to other place, your expenses are being paid by the other government while your forces, the NPA, are dying,” the President said.
“Your leader [Sison] is coward. What kind of leader is that? Come back here. You stay here and do not question my absence… Do not enjoy your luxury there,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)