“From now on I will consider the CPP-NPA-NDF a terrorist group,” said President Rodrigo Duterte on February 4, in the same announcement he made on the termination of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
With this, he turns his back on his various statements through the years on the lead organizations of the revolutionary movement in the Philippines, engaged in a civil war with the Government of the Philippines (GRP).
Among his statements in the past either recognizes the ongoing revolution or identifies himself as similar with the revolutionaries.
“I can talk, but I can’t talk them out of their ideology. You have to realize the Communist Party is entering its 45th year here. You have to admit there’s been historical injustice committed on the people…Crimes I can deal with it. But with the revolutionary (groups), I give it to the (national) government, but here, I advised government not to make arrests of revolutionaries” said as Davao City Mayor at the Davao Trade Expo 2013.
2. Hindi mo puwedeng suspendihin ang usapan habang may rebolusyon sa harap mo
“Ayokong sabihin ito, pero wala pa akong nakikitang sinseridad sa bahagi ng gobyerno. Hindi mo puwedeng suspendihin ang usapan habang may rebolusyon sa harap mo,” Duterte said in a press conference on May 19, 2014 in Davao City.
“What [Joma] Sison is after, I am after that also. We have a common program for action: real and national independence and territorial integrity, democratic empowerment of the working people –I want that also. Economic development through national industrialization, I want that too,” said in Bisaya in his Sunday radio program, Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa (From the Masses, to the Masses) on December 28, 2014, a reaction to Sison’s comment that “Mayor Duterte should become president if he is willing to have a democratic coalition government with the revolutionary forces and other patriotic and progressive forces of our people” and to have “a common program of action: real national independence and territorial integrity, democratic empowerment of the working people, economic development through national industrialization and genuine land reform, social justice, a patriotic and progressive culture and international solidarity with other peoples for peace and development. What the revolutionary forces want is what the people demand.”
On revolutionary taxes of the NPA, he said also at the Davao Trade Expo 2013 to ‘just pay them.’ “I cannot put it to a stop. So factor that in your investments. If you pay to the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue), you prepare also for the NPA.”
“They’re two different things,” Duterte said. “One is for pocket, and the other one is ideology. Here is a rebel, and they’re fighting as a matter of principle. And here are idiots – the criminals,” comparing criminals to the CPP-NPA in an October 26, 2015 interview with Rappler’s Maria Ressa during campaign period from the reporter’s question about the distinction of criminals and rebels.
6. Kaming mga sosyalista, para kami sa tao
“Ako, sosyalista. Hindi ako komunista. Kaming mga sosyalista, para kami sa tao (I am a socialist, not a communist. We socialists are for the people),” Duterte said at a campaign rally on April 18, 2016 in San Pedro, Laguna.
7. Ang ibibigay ko sa Communist Party of the Philippines, if they decide to join the government, ‘yung DAR, DENR…Labor is the one
“Ang ibibigay ko sa Communist Party of the Philippines, if they decide to join the government, ‘yung DAR, DENR…Labor is the one, sabi nila pinaka-oppressed ‘yan, so they are the most vigilant group in the Philippines about labor,” Presumptive President Duterte announced that he offered four cabinet posts (agrarian reform, social welfare, environment and labor) to the CPP in May 16, 2016. The CPP deferred the positions to “competent progressives” and also conceded the Labor Department to Sec. Silvestre Bello III who was first already chosen by Duterte for GRP Peace Panel Chair.
8. Ito namang mga komunista, kaibigan kami
“Ito namang mga komunista, kaibigan kami. They are socialist but they are Communist Party of the Philippines. I am just socialist in my dimension kasi anak ako ng mahirap. I hate government and anyone oppressing the people,” Duterte on July 31, 2016 remarked conciliatorily after a word war with CPP founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison on the issue of ceasefire.
“So ang redeeming factor diyan is you rebel because you want a better setup or a better life for the people…Kaya nga ang punishment ng rebellion, mababa. Walang death penalty, I think it’s prision correccional to prision mayor…. The longest is 12 years and if ‘yung mag-ano ka pa…But all of these guys will have my… I’ll consider an amnesty kung magkausap tayo at we can agree to a peaceful co-existence. I will accommodate them,” Duterte said on August 1, 2016, after his cancellation of the GRP unilateral ceasefire and defending here political prisoners and political exiles saying their fight was driven by ideology.
10. I am encouraging people in government, the military and the police to be friendly with the forces of the revolutionary government
“And as a matter of fact, I am encouraging people in government, the military and the police to be friendly with the forces of the revolutionary government of the Communist Party of the Philippines in the meantime that we have a ceasefire because of the Oslo talks,” said Duterte in his August 24, 2016 second GRP unilateral ceasefire declaration, in a rare recognition of the status of belligerency of the CPP-NPA-NDFP from the GRP.
Calling revolutionaries as terrorists
In a tirade during his visit to Cagayan de Oro on February 5 in the wake of the three soldiers killed in an encounter with the NPA in Bukidnon, Duterte called the CPP-NPA-NDFP a terrorist group.
“I went out of my way, sometimes being humbled when they retort to insulting remarks. Nilunok ko yan [I endured that] because I wanted to end a 50-year-old war. But it seems to me na itong mga terorista, want another 50-year war of killing Filipinos,” Duterte said.
“Why do you kill a government soldier 73 times? Anong tingin mo sa sundalo? Aso? (What do you thing of soldiers? Dogs?)” Duterte said in between curses.
However, Ka Allan Juanito, Spokesperson of NPA North Central Mindanao Command clarified in a February 7 statement that the incident in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon that resulted to the death of three soldiers was a legitimate encounter.
“On February 1 at 5:20 in the afternoon, two Red fighters under the NPA-South Central Bukidnon flagged down the three soldiers onboard two motorcycles as they arrived at Sitio Kalib, Brgy. Kibalabag from Malaybalay City. Two troopers made a move of pulling out their pistols, forcing the NPA squad positioned alongside the road to open fire,” said Juanito.
He further denied that the bodies of the slain soldiers were desecrated.
He explained that the 8th Infantry Battalion troops have started their encampment in the communities of Brgy. Kibalabag and Brgy. Manalog since October and November respectively.
He debunked the military’s claim that military presence were in the area to deliver social services.
“In fact, they are spreading decadent influence to the peace-loving residents like drinking sprees, gambling and pornography,” Juanito alleged.
The NPA has been in ‘active defense’ almost since its unilateral ceasefire declaration in August 2016, that they said meant they would take action “only in the face of clear and imminent danger and actual armed attack by the enemy forces and only after exhausting counter-maneuvers to avoid armed encounters.”
The CPP Central Committee and NPA National Operational Command issued its unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire on August 28 2016 ordering all NPA units and people’s militia to “cease and desist from carrying out offensive military campaigns and operations against the uniformed armed personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) of the GRP.” They have lifted their unilateral ceasefire declaration on January 30 saying that the ceasefire was untenable because of the AFP’s attacks on the NPA and the incursions in their areas of control.
Continuous military operations in Makilala, North Cotabato resulted to the death of an NPA fighter when troops from the 39th Infantry Battalion attacked an NPA encampment in Makilala, North Cotabato on January 21 while the peace talks in Rome, Italy is ongoing. It was only after the NPA released their own statement was it revealed that the GRP attack ended in 8 AFP soldiers dead.The AFP, however, denied this.
However, the NDFP clarified in a separate statement on January 31 that the reported skirmishes between the NPA and AFP indicates that “the GRP military and police have become even more aggressive after their ‘success’ in the Makilala, North Cotabato incident where they violated their own ceasefire by mounting a day-long offensive against an NPA unit and attacked the latter in its encampment, killing a Red fighter.”
“It also means that given the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP)’s increasing incursions and attacks on communities, the NPA has been obliged to take an active defense posture to defend and protect the communities and its forces,” said Fidel Agcaoilli, NDFP panel chairperson in the statement.
Observing the ceasefire
Agcaoili said that the NPA has maintained strictly its own unilateral ceasefire, taking extraordinary measures to avoid encounters with AFP troops while remaining on active defense in a separate statement on February 3.
During the third round of peace talks, human rights group Karapatan submitted a report of the GRP’s own unilateral ceasefire and human rights violations from August 21 to December 26, 2016, tapping on the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) mechanism of the peace process to notify both parties and check on the violations of both sides. The JMC is part of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
The GRP side handed a copy of GRP-documented complaints on ceasefire violations committed by the NDFP, also during the third round of peace talks.
These violations may also be investigated, recommend and serve punishment, indemnify the victims jointly or separately decided and implemented by both sides, also as per the JMC guidelines.
Featured image by Earl Condeza/Davao Today