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Duterte willing to forgive, forget rebels’ offenses if they surrender

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By Genalyn Kabiling 

After the peace talks bogged down over atrocities allegedly committed by Communist rebels, President Duterte recently said he was willing to “forget” the offenses committed by the insurgents who will surrender to the government.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the oath-taking ceremony of the officers of the Malacañang Press Corps, Presidential Photojournalists Association, and Malacañang Cameramen Association at the Malacañan Palace on September 10, 2019. (SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/MANILA BULLETIN)

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/FILE PHOTO/MANILA BULLETIN)

The President said the government would even provide assistance, including shelter aid, to the rebel returnees to help them reintegrate into society.

“Kayong mga NPA, I’m ready to accept you. I’m willing to forget what you — how many killed,” he said during his recent visit to Bataan.

Duterte extended the offer to the rebels even as he lamented that many soldiers, policemen and barangay captains were killed in recent years. “Pinakamarami kasing na namamatayan soldiers and barangay captains [Many soldiers and barangays were killed]. We lose about three, four a day. Police, ako meron ako sigurong mga dalawa, tatlo [we lose about two or three],” he added.

In his visit to trip to Capiz last Thursday, Duterte renewed his appeal to the Communists to turn themselves in after decades of fighting with the government.

“Kayong mga NPA, pag-isipan ninyong mabuti. You cannot keep on destroying the country,” he said.

Duterte took a swipe at the failed communist rebellion, saying the insurgents were unable to control a single town even during the last five decades of violence.
He added that rebels ended up dying for a lost cause without seeing their children left at home.

“Kayong mga NPA, alam man ninyo ‘yan. Nililibing ka lang diyan sa gubat. At ang mga pamilyang iniwan ninyo lalaki ng walang tatay, nanay. Ganyan ba ang buhay? Is that the — ganun ba talaga ang tingin ninyo sa buhay? Ganun kadali? [The NPAs know that. You’re buried in the forest and you leave a family without a father, a mother. Is that how you value life? It’s that easy?],” he said.

The President, who previously claimed the Communist rebellion was in its death throes, earlier directed the military to launch full scale offensives against the rebels.

He has refused to resume the peace talks with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison following his alleged arrogance and insincerity. The torture and killing of four policemen by the rebels in Negros also drove the President angry and forced him to raise a large bounty against the killers.

“I am sad and I am angry. And I do not think that we can have that talks again with Sison. Ayaw ko na kasi hindi sila sumusunod ng batas. They always invoke Geneva Convention but they do not follow it. It’s a pure hypocrisy,” Duterte said.

In 2017, President Duterte issued Proclamation No. 360 declaring the termination of peace negotiations with the Communist rebel group.

The proclamation stated that despite the government’s best efforts, the communist group failed to show sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine peace talks amid its involvement in acts of violence and hostilities that endanger the lives and properties of innocent people.

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