MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday closed the door for the resumption of talks with communist rebels and ordered state forces to gear up for a possible all-out war with the New People’s Army (NPA).
In his State of the Nation Address (SONA), the President slammed the National Democratic Front (NDF) and its armed wing, the NPA, for insincerity in dealing with the government.
“I used to be friends with the NDF. Times have changed because God placed me here. Bully daw ako. Talagang bully ako (I am really a bully) especially to the enemies of the state,” Duterte said.
The President cited the spate of deadly attacks by the NPAs on policemen, particularly on the Presidential Security Group in Arakan, North Cotabato as evidence of the communist rebels hypocrisy.
The President, however, was not in the vehicle at that time.
“Kayong mga Left (To the Left), I will not talk to you. Why should I?” Duterte told a joint session of Congress in a lengthy speech.
The President reiterated this during a press briefing after the SONA.
He said the Communists, uncertain of their policies, still have the gall to accuse him of being a bully.
“I said I am a bully to the enemies of the state. So if you don’t want me, to talk to me, I (also) do not want to talk to you and I do not want you. So ayaw ninyong makipag-usap, mas lalo na ako (If you don’t want to talk, much more am I),” Duterte told reporters.
The President expressed disdain to the NPAs for engaging in dirty tactics and accused them of showing no mercy to government forces called upon to render assistance. He was referring to a July 21 incident in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental wherein six police officers, including the city police chief, were killed in an ambush while responding to also to an ambush distress call.
“It is all rues and excuse just to kill them. Kawawa ‘yung mga tao na ‘yan (I pity them) because they went to their deaths with a sense of purpose and that was to respond to an emergency because they were told that,” the President said.
The President, who in his first SONA called on the NDF to end decades of fighting through peace talks, said that he is now willing to continue the war against the communist rebels for another 50 years and reciprocate their ruthlessness in like manner.
“So kung ganon, wala ring patawaran tayo. So I am ordering the military and the police, walang patawaran kasi hindi naman tayo pinapatawad (No mercy because they do not show mercy),” Duterte said.
“So this time, you do it to me, do it to my police and to my Army, we will do it to you. So no more talks. They cannot have their cake and eat it too,” Duterte said.
As a counter-measure to the dual threats now posed by both the communist rebels and Islamic militants, the President said that government would start to call for a mobilization of additional 35,000 fighting men.
“I want the Army added by about 20,000 fighting men. Then I will add about another 10- to 15-thousand policemen. But I want them SAF (Special Action Force). And I will also start to re-arm,” he said.
“I really do not know how many will sprout up but we have the ISIS and the NPA. I will build a credible Armed Forces that can fight at all fronts everywhere,” Duterte said.