The next time President Duterte makes a trip to China, he may be bringing along dozens of female former communist guerrillas who have surrendered to his government.
The President told 215 former members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), that he wanted to show them how life has improved after China turned to capitalism.
The President said he wanted to take female former Red fighters on a tour to China and Hong Kong, similar to the trip he had arranged as a reward for female soldiers who fought Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi City.
“Do you want to go to Hong Kong? All my female soldiers who fought in Marawi, from the police and the military, I sent them to Hong Kong for a vacation. And it may be the same for you,” Mr. Duterte said in a speech to rebel returnees in Malacañang on Wednesday night.
There were 48 female former guerrillas in the audience.
No definite date yet
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said there was no definite date for the President’s visit to China, adding that he had a standing invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“And the invitation was: it can be state, official, private, you are always welcome to come to China,” Roque said.
The President made the pitch to convince the former insurgents to turn a new leaf and reject the communist ideology.
“You communists would say life is good [under communism]. Now that China is no longer communist, you take a look,” he said.
The CPP and the NPA were established at the height of China’s “cultural revolution” when China battled “capitalist roaders.”
The CPP still follows Mao Zedong’s protracted “people’s war” strategy of surrounding the cities from the countryside.
Following Mao’s death, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping ascended to the top leadership position and opened China to the global economy.
Harsh words for NPA
While he wooed the female former guerrillas, Mr. Duterte had harsh words for those still fighting the government, ordering troops to kill five NPA members for every soldier they killed.
“Women or men, as long as they’re NPA, kill them. Let’s see,” he added.
Mr. Duterte was reacting to a statement from CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison, who said the NPA was capable of killing at least one soldier a day.
Sison on Thursday said he was just making an estimate and that he was in no position to order the rebels to conduct offensive operations.
Roque said the President was sending a message to Sison that he should not make threats.
“We are the state, if we haven’t eradicated you, it’s because we opted not to eradicate you as Filipinos,” Roque said. “But if you want war, we are ready to go to war.”
In a statement on Thursday, Sison said he was “quite different” from Mr. Duterte who “boasts of his brutal and bloodthirsty character.”
“I cannot order the NPA to kill anyone. Certainly, I cannot order them to launch any offensive campaign or operations against the (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” he said in a statement.
In an online interview with the Inquirer on Thursday as he marked his 79th birthday, Sison said his birthday wish was to “Oust Digong, unless he can make up and do good for the country.”
“I’m giving him a second chance to resume peace negotiation and do not disrupt it,” he said.
Sison and his wife, Juliet, have been in self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987, after the collapse of the peace negotiations under then President Corazon Aquino. They have never set foot in the country since then. —REPORTS FROM PHILIP C. TUBEZA AND DELFIN T. MALLARI JR.