THE Duterte government is gearing up for possible retaliatory attacks by the communist New People's Army (NPA), Malacañang said on Thursday, February 8.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria "Joma" Sison could not threaten the current administration, because it is capable of wiping out the NPA.

"The message is, 'You don't threaten us, Joma Sison. We are the state. If we haven't eradicated you, it's because we opted not to eradicate you as Filipinos. But if you want war, we're ready to go to war,'" Roque told Palace reporters.

Roque's statement came a day after President Rodrigo Duterte fired back at Sison for calling for intensified NPA attacks and saying that the NPA is capable of killing one soldier every day.

“The NPA in 17 regions has actually the capacity of knocking out at least one AFP soldier every day per region. That eliminates at least 510 enemy troops or some five companies every month,” Sison said on February 4.

“That translates to the elimination of some 60 companies or 20 basic battalions every year,” he added.

Speaking before former rebels who have surrendered, Duterte on Wednesday, February 7, hit back and warned that he would not hesitate to order the armed forces to kill five NPA rebels for every soldier killed.

"I will tell the military to kill five rebels for every soldier killed. As long as they are NPA members, whether male or female, kill them," Duterte said in Bisaya.

Duterte, who was irked by communists' continuing attacks against government forces, had issued two proclamations, ordering the termination of peace talks with the communist group and tagging the CPP-NPA as a terror organization. (SunStar Philippines)