MANILA, Philippines — After saying he no longer wants talk to communist rebels following successive attacks on government forces, President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said it was his job “to bully you and to kill you because there is a war going on between us and you.”
“Let him do his worst,” Fidel Agcaoili, chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, said.
Addressing the Davao Investment Conference Friday, Duterte said it was “silly” of the rebels to “threaten” government.
“You are Filipinos, we are Filipinos. You want to destroy this county? We will join you in destroying this country,” he said.
The day before, in a visit to troops battling extremists in Marawi City, Duterte declared: “Ayaw ko nang makipag-usap sa kanila (communists). Marami na akong sundalo na pinatay nila. Marami na akong pulis na pinatay nila (I don’t want to talk to them anymore. They have killed many of my soldiers. They have killed many of my police) …”
His visit to Marawi followed the wounding of five personnel of the Presidential Security Group in Cotabato province and the killing of two Marines in Palawan by the New People’s Army. His Davao speech, on the other hand, came the same day rebels killed six policemen, including the chief of police, of Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
Duterte, who often styled himself as a “leftist” and “socialist,” reopened formal negotiations with the NDFP, which represents the rebels, early into his term. However, relations between the two sides seesawed over continued clashes, the thousands of killings in Duterte’s war on drugs and alleged human rights violations by state forces, and most recently over the declaration of martial law in Mindanao because of the Marawi clashes.
“Huwag mo akong takutin (Do not threaten me),” Duterte said in Davao, addressing the rebels. “Bully? I am a bully. I bully people who try to topple government and all the enemies of the state. That is my job, to bully you and to kill you because there is a war going on between us and you.”
CLICK TO WATCH DUTERTE’S STATEMENT ON THE REBELS:
“Well, the cat is out of the bag,” Agcaoili said. “Duterte is not for change or even a modicum of reforms in Philippine society. He is for a repeat of (Ferdinand) Marcos’ military rule and patronage politics under the old semi-colonial and semi-feudal system.”
“Let him do his worst,” the chief rebel negotiator added. “If he thinks by going on a killing rampage against the revolutionary movement he would achieve social change, he is absolutely mistaken — just as he has been shown to be wrong in trying to solve the drug problem by killing thousands of poor drug users or in trying to solve the Deash (Islamic State) problem by killing hundreds of Moros and destroying Marawi.”
“Duterte is now embarking on a very dangerous course of martial rule and mass murder in order to reshape the Philippines in his kanto-boy (street thug) image just as Marcos’ did in 1972 with his new society slogan,” Agcaoili said.