“I will hamlet them,” President Rodrigo Duterte said as he bared a plan to keep the Lumad community away from the influence of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
“I will hamlet them. Why? Because if they remain scattered, they are really in danger. I cannot get their loyalty if they are scattered because they are afraid to be away from each other. Kamong mga nitibo [you natives],” Duterte said in a mix of English and Bisaya.
He was quick to add: “Dili ta mo presuhon [I will not imprison you]” and said that this was meant to protect them in their respective territories. He also said that he would even provide the indigenous people with arms.
The “hamlets,” Duterte added, would be separated by tribe.
“Walay makasulod. Walay ubang tribo. Inyo na,” the President said.
As for those who leave the hamlet while bearing arms without authority, they could be attacked by the police or the military, Duterte said.
“Hamletting” is a controversial practice of pooling people into territories that are guarded by the military, and was one of the methods used in the past to root out the communist rebellion.
The CPP has declared a ceasefire with the government troops for the holidays and its 50th anniversary.
Duterte also has said that the Reds do not deserve mercy as he slammed them for being “cruel and brutal.”
Duterte said he no longer considered the New People’s Army as revolutionaries but “criminals.”
“They are all criminals. Do not consider them revolutionary. They are just plain bandits and that is the way we should treat them,” he said in his speech during the Barangay Summit on Good Governance Region XI in Davao City.
He said he would just “finish” the rebels whom he said were “in a continuous crime of rebellion 24 hours a day” by going “around the community asking for money and killing them if (they) don’t give. “
“Why do I need to have a warrant? By the fact that you are a rebel you are a 24-hour violator of the Revised Penal Code of rebellion,” he said.
The President said he would soon stop accepting rebel surrenderers and would just order the killing of the rebels.
In November last year, the peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) collapsed after the President signed Proclamation No. 360, formally terminating the talks with the Maoist insurgents.
The termination came after rebels launched a series of attacks against government troops.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said on Tuesday that the government would not declare a holiday ceasefire despite Joma Sison’s pronouncement that the rebels were ready to declare a temporary suspension of fighting during the holidays.
“I no longer believe this could be done through the talks,” Duterte said. “They were the ones who declared a unilateral ceasefire, I did not ask for it, but they were also the one who launched the attack in Sorsogon and here in the region. They killed the wife of a Cafgu,” the President said.