LUCENA CITY, Quezon province—President Rodrigo Duterte expressed disappointment with the New Peoples Army (NPA) rebels who ambushed a Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in Davao del Norte which resulted to the death of the CAFGU member and wounding four others.
President Duterte even threatened to lift the unilateral ceasefire which he declared during his 1st State of the Nation Address (SONA) when he spoke before soldiers and policemen at Camp Guillermo Nakar on Thursday.
“If we cannot honor a ceasefire, let’s just fight!” President Duterte said, calling on the rebel group to investigate and discipline those responsible for the incident.
The President mentioned that government law enforcers who commit infractions are meted penalties, which must also be done among their ranks by those from the NPA, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and the National Democratic Front (NDF).
On Monday, President Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP-NPA-NDF as a sign of the government’s goodwill towards the realization of a peace agreement with the rebels.
“As President, I have to seek peace for our country. Not only with the communist insurgency but doon rin sa (but also with the) Muslim insurgency.”
Even with the ceasefire, the President encouraged the military to stay on alert, saying that they should be involved in assuring the safety of residents in their respective jurisdictions.
He also reminded the AFP and the PNP not to provoke any elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the NPA as their members are fellow Filipinos who are fighting for an ideology, unlike the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) which is a mere criminal group with no clear ideological agenda attached to its cause.
PRRD also said the $32 million fund, which the United States offered through Secretary of State John Kerry, will be used for national security and the campaign against illegal drugs. He also promised to provide the best armaments to the military for them to be able to carry out their mandate and accomplish their missions, but reminding the soldiers to exercise restraint and calmness.
The President further reiterated the new role of the military in the campaign against drugs. “We cannot hand over to the next generation this problem on drugs because it reaches far and wide. There is no negotiating with criminals. You have to destroy them. There is no other choice. There is no ideology.”
President Duterte emphasized the need for intensified operations against illegal drug syndicates. He explained that the reason why no “big fish” have been caught is due to the fact that drug lords operate outside the country utilizing state-of-the-art technology to facilitate shipments and distribution. Going after these top-tier personalities would mean an incursion into foreign territory, short of declaring war on the country where these drug lords reside.