Duterte orders PNP chief: Wipe out NPA
CEBU CITY — What Philippine leaders had failed to do in half a century, President Rodrigo Duterte wants done in the next five years of his six-year term — wipe out communist rebels.
Philippine National Police Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said Mr. Duterte’s instructions to him were to focus next on fighting the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, after the government finishes off remnants of the Maute group in Marawi City.
It remains uncertain, however, when the war on the Maute Group in Marawi would end and that on the NPA would begin, which Dela Rosa described would be a “full scale” campaign.
Authorities had stopped giving a deadline for the completion of the campaign to rid Marawi of members of the Maute group, a homegrown terror group that swore fealty to the Islamic State (IS) and tried to establish an IS vassal in the predominantly Muslim city.
Get rid of the NPA “whatever it takes” was Mr. Duterte’s instruction, according to Dela Rosa. “After Marawi, we will focus on our problem [with the NPA],” said the police chief.
Dela Rosa was guest speaker at the general membership meeting and induction of new members of Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Cebu City Sports Club.
Dela Rosa told the business group, the biggest in Cebu, that he was personally asked by the President to focus next on the NPA after the Marawi campaign is over.
The police chief said Mr. Duterte gave the instruction while they were on their way to Dumaguete City on Thursday to visit the wake of policemen who were killed in a clash with the NPA in Guihulngan City.
“The President told me ‘you better get ready, we will wipe out all NPA [members] after the problem in Marawi,” Dela Rosa said.
Without citing the source of his information, Dela Rosa said the highest number of NPA members was in Agusan, Davao and Surigao in Mindanao and Negros, Iloilo and Samar in the Visayas.
Cebu and other parts in the Visayas are rebel-free, Dela Rosa said.
Dela Rosa said he was confident that Cebuanos and people in Central Visayas would shun the NPA and any terrorist group.
He cited the case of 11 members of Abu Sayyaf group who tried to penetrate Bohol through Inabanga town in April.
Tips from residents helped authorities track the criminals down and kill them in separate operations that lasted for more than a month.
Dela Rosa questioned the sincerity of communist rebels in peace talks with the government because of continued attacks by the NPA on government forces.
War for another 50 years
“I think nobody does not want peace. But if they want peace they should go for peace. Not just they want peace talks but they keep on attacking us,” he said referring to communist rebels.
In his speech before the business group, Dela Rosa urged businessmen to continue supporting the PNP and help ensure that terrorists do not set foot in Cebu.
Peace talks between the government and communist rebels collapsed after Mr. Duterte ordered peace negotiations canceled following continued rebel attacks on police and military targets.
He said while the rebellion had gone on for 50 years, he was willing to go to war with the rebels for another 50 years.
No post-World War II Philippine President has succeeded in ending the communist rebellion that traces its roots to agrarian unrest among other things. The height of the rebellion was believed to have come during the Marcos dictatorship when the number of guerrillas fighting the regime was estimated to have reached more than 20,000.
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