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Police to be active in anti-terrorism operations

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By Aaron B. Recuenco and Antonio L. Colina, IV

BASILAN HEARING ON BBL – Soldiers guard the Basilan State College in Isabela, Basilan, during the Senate hearing on the Bangsamoro Basic Law last weekend. The Senate is holding hearings in areas in Mindanao that are being proposed for inclusion in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region to gather local feedback. (Jansen Romero)

BASILAN HEARING ON BBL – Soldiers guard the Basilan State College in Isabela, Basilan, during the Senate hearing on the Bangsamoro Basic Law last weekend. The Senate is holding hearings in areas in Mindanao that are being proposed for inclusion in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region to gather local feedback. (Jansen Romero)

Police forces will be actively involved in addressing terrorism and insurgency problems especially in Mindanao as President Duterte stands firm on how his government will deal with communist terrorists – just like how the Maute Group was flushed out of Marawi City.

Director General Ronald dela Rosa, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said that no less than the President has instructed the police leadership to assist the military in running after terror groups and communist rebels.

“There will be adjustments because the President wants us to be involved more aggressively in the problem of terrorism and insurgency,” said Dela Rosa.

Speaking in Davao City last Friday night, Duterte said in a press conference that government forces will deal with communist fighters just the same as with Islamic State-influenced militants.

“And we have this problem of terrorism – we will deal with them just like the way the Armed Forces and the police reacted during the Marawi siege. And for the communists, no quarters, no ask,” Duterte said.

The Islamic State-inspired Maute Group occupied Marawi City on May 23, 2017, prompting Duterte to respond by ordering the military to bomb their positions and take them out and placing Mindanao under martial law.

Although the PNP has its own elite force to run after insurgents, almost all the operations against terror and rebel groups are being carried out by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“That is the reason why we are expediting the upgrading of our equipment and armaments to help the AFP regarding the problem,” said Dela Rosa.

The communist rebel leadership earlier vowed to intensify the campaign against the government following the arrest of some of their peace talks consultants.

Their founding leader, Jose Maria Sison, has said rebels should kill one soldier a day, to which the President responded by saying that he will order five terrorists killed for every life taken by the rebels.

Chopper deal

Last weekend, Duterte ordered the AFP to cancel the $233-million deal with Canada for the purchase of 16 helicopters after its government called for a review on this transaction for fear it might be used against rebels and terrorists.

Duterte added if government forces could not use the helicopters against terrorists and rebels, the country must prepare for eventual collapse.

He said that he cannot allow the global terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to further contaminate the country.

“If I cannot use the gunship and helicopters, then I might as well surrender this government to them,” he said. “That’s the logic. I do not question your logic. Your logic is your logic. My logic is mine. It is based on the realities on the ground.”

Duterte said he respects the stand of the Canada, whose government reportedly insisted it would only sell helicopters only for evacuation and emergency purposes and that it cannot be used against anti-insurgency operations. He, likewise, ordered the military not to buy even from the US.

“So from here on, now, I am directing Armed Forces of the Philippines since most of the guns, bullets and whatever weapons of war, invariably could be used against the rebels and terrorists. Do not anymore get from Canada or from United States because there are always conditions attached,” he said.

Still friends

The President assured that he does not hate Canada, saying he still respects the values of its people.

“I would assure the Canadian people – we are friends, we do not hate you, we love Canadians because there are a lot of Filipinos there,” Duterte said.

“We respect the policy of the Canadian people, well and good. Do not buy anything that has something to do with arms,” Duterte said. “But if you need cosmetics, you want to be beautiful at beauty products, okay, you can buy them,” he added.

Duterte said he opposes any condition that would restrict the use of helicopters in combating terrorists and communist rebels in the country.

Gun control

Meanwhile, only the AFP and the PNP are authorized to buy high-powered guns in the country.

The President has prohibited gun stores from selling high-powered firearms even to government officials, saying such weapons must be returned to the national police headquarters.

“I am ordering also the police to control the sale of – all gun stores are no longer allowed to sell high-powered guns, even to governors and mayors. Only the military and police can buy,” Duterte said.

“And they should be taken off their shelf and returned to (Camp) Crame and that must be reflected there kung sinong nagbili, sinong tao, anong ranggo, saang unit [the buyer, rank, and unit],” he added.

The President has sought to tighten gun purchase in the country to prevent the guns from falling into enemy hands. (With a report from Genalyn D. Kabiling)

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