By Hannah L. Torregoza
Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday said she finds it ironic that President Rodrigo Duterte is now using the New People’s Army (NPA) to justify the need to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year.
De Lima pointed out that Duterte made an extensive enumeration of alleged terrorists acts committed by his erstwhile “bffs” (initials to mean “best friend forever”) when he was still Davao city mayor apart from the continuing acts of rebellion and terrorism in the island coming from the remnants of the Maute-ISIS, the BIFF, and the Abu Sayyaf.
“That Duterte has, for decades, befriended, coddled, and gave aid and comfort to the NPA in the Davao region is no secret. On several occasions as mayor of Davao City, he urged businessmen to just comply with the demands of the NPA to pay revolutionary taxes,” De Lima said in her latest statement.
“He has politically aligned himself not only with the movement but with its ideology as well, or at least the part of it that conveniently served his authoritarian streak,” she said.
She said the brazen support of a sitting public official to what the President himself has now proclaimed as a terrorist organization reached a climax at the funeral march of NPA commander Leoncio Pitao, popularly known as Kumander Parago, in July 2015. The body of Parago was paraded on the streets of Davao City in broad daylight, with the rebel army as escorts.
“Duterte, like a two-timing Judas, once betrayed his oath as a public official to support the NPA. He now dumps his erstwhile bffs, the NPA, in exchange for the AFP’s support for his planned RevGov (revolutionary government),” De Lima pointed out.
“After the AFP proved to be uncooperative in supporting the Bonifacio Day putsch of his Ka-DDS supporters, Duterte kicked off an AFP-wooing campaign by declaring his former NPA benefactors ‘terrorists’,” she noted.
De Lima said Duterte now wants a Martial Law extension to defeat the armed movement he himself nurtured, aided, and comforted in the hills of Davao for decades.
“No one in government coddled the newly-declared “terrorists” more than Duterte did. No one in government can be faulted more for the growth of the NPA in Mindanao than Duterte himself,” she said.
“Simply put, the enforcement of Martial Law for the purpose of ending the NPA rebellion cannot be left to the very person most responsible for emboldening the armed movement and enabling their expansion in Mindanao, especially in the hills surrounding Davao City,” added the senator.
“Duterte using the Red Scare to ask for an extension of Martial Law is opportunism exemplified. One who has supported the rebels now ‘terrorists’ cannot be allowed to use their rebellion as an excuse for Martial Law and the imposition of more authoritarian restriction on civil liberties,” she stressed.
De Lima said she opposes any further extension of Martial Law in Mindanao, stressing that Martial Law powers cannot be given to the major enabler of the communist rebellion in Mindanao.
“Duterte should not be allowed to sweet-talk and bribe the AFP with the Martial Law candy to get their support for his authoritarian agenda.
“Duterte just wants the AFP to serve him as his loyal dogs, the same way the AFP blindly followed Marcos. We know how all of that turned out for this nation,” she emphasized.