MANILA – For President Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s military forces do not work “for money” but soldiers that serve because of their “love of country.”
In a meeting with officers of the Philippine Army (PA) and Philippine Air Force (PAF) on Tuesday night, Duterte congratulated the troops for their successful operation against the New People’s Army (NPA).
“I’m not paying you. I know that you are not mercenaries. You do not do it for money. You do it out of passion for the love of country because we are all Filipinos,” he said in his speech at the Malago clubhouse inside Malacañang Park.
Duterte’s expression of gratitude came after government troops successfully conducted military operations in Northern Luzon and Mindanao.
He ordered the military and the police to neutralize the insurgents because of their continuous attacks on government forces amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Communist rebels have been launching regular attacks against the members of the military escorting social workers handing over cash grants and food packs to poor families in remote areas.
In his remarks on May 12, Duterte ordered the military to eliminate the communist insurgents if the rebels placed their lives in danger.
He also offered a PHP2-million reward to anyone who could provide information for the capture and neutralization of top NPA commanders.
Meanwhile, Duterte also recalled how he cultivated a bond with the military when he was Davao City mayor and facilitated the release of some soldiers and policemen captured by the rebels.
“I’m not trying to really pull my own chair but for all ‘yung naka — nung mga sundalo pati pulis na nabihag ng — except si ‘yung general — lahat ‘yan ako ang kumukuha pati si Bong (Senator Go). Kaya bilib ako. Saludo ako kung ginawa ninyo (when soldiers and police were captured – except a general, I rescued them, I was with Bong. That’s why I salute you for what you’ve been doing),” he said.
On May 4, Duterte said there is no hope for peace talks, rejecting anew the idea of a possible resumption of peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF).
Duterte did not elaborate in his speech, but in several instances slammed communist rebels for reneging on their commitment to observe a unilateral ceasefire amid Covid-19 pandemic.
He also cautioned government forces from trusting the word of communist insurgents.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)