Duterte to ex-NPAs: I’ll shoot you if you go back to subversion
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has urged former New People’s Army rebels who have returned to the folds of law to make the most of their new lives as he would not think twice of shooting them should they return to rebellion.
“Go back, and I will kill you, don’t embarrass me before the government,” Duterte told 40 rebel returnees on Wednesday evening.
Duterte started his speech telling the rebel returnees how he began as a government prosecutor handling cases of political detainees against the Marcos regime. He said he understood what the rebels have been fighting for although he could not accept their armed struggle.
He asked the returnees how many needed houses for shelter and how many were looking for jobs. Almost all raised their hands, prompting Duterte to say: “Ah, maybe, you just go back to the NPA,” which sent even some of the military officers laughing.
He also told the returnees how, as a student of former UP Prof. Jose Maria Sison, he used to join demonstrations at Malacañang even when his father, then the governor Vicente Duterte of the undivided Davao province, told him to stop or he would resign from his post.
Duterte also told the returnees he knew how it felt if one’s house was demolished. As settlers from the Visayas, Duterte’s parents happened to have built a house on a land already titled by big landowners. He also said that the war between Christian settlers and the Moro people in Mindanao did not have anything to do with religion but had something to do with the land.
“It is a territorial war, not a religious war,” he said.
Duterte, who at times was perceived to be left-leaning, said he has always remained loyal to the government even if his views were radical, and urged the returnees not to go back to the underground movement.
When he asked the returnees if they were not so choosy about jobs, he offered them the possibility of street cleaning and garbage handling. The city’s human resources office, however, has also been accepting applications for training in automotive repair and other technical courses and urged the returnees to apply.
Duterte also offered the resettlement area in Barangay (village) Los Amigos, about 30 kilometers away from the city, for possible housing for rebel returnees, promising to prioritize those who with families.
Duterte, who said he believed in the cause of socialism except for its armed struggle, told the returnees, maybe, if God willed it, socialism would just arrive at their doorstep one day. For now, all they could is wait.
“I understand your grievances but you have to give up your arms because it’s a war that will take a thousand years,” he said.
“Who knows if God wills it, socialism will just come to us on its own, without anybody forcing it,” he added.
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