GUIHULNGAN CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte visited the wake of six policemen killed in a New People’s Army ambush last Friday, renewing his tirade against Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison and his threat to bomb lumad schools he claimed teach tribal children to hate government.
The six slain personnel of the Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental police, including station commander Superintendent Arnel Arpon, were posthumously awarded Medalya ng Kagitingan and their families promised educational support and employment.
Duterte also handed them some P500,000 each in financial assistance.
Arpon, Police Officer 2 Alfredo Dunque, PO2 Alvin Bolandres, PO3 Teovic Agusto, Senior Police Officer 2 Nicasio Tabilon and SPO1 Jesael Ancheta were killed responding to a call for help from Councilor Edison dela Rita, who had been ambushed by the rebels first.
While condoling with their families, Duterte said he had to advise the teenaged son of one of the slain policemen not to enter the service “with hatred kasi gaganti ka lang (because you will just seek revenge).”
He said he was saddened when Filipinos, including rebels, had to die and lashed out at the exiled Sison, who he challenged to come home and fight.
“If you are truly a revolutionary leader, my God, come home and fight here,” he said.
Reacting to Duterte, Sison, in a report by independent media outfit Kodao Productions, said: “I do not have to prove again that I have the revolutionary will and courage to wage armed struggle against oppression,” Sison said, adding he surpasses the field record of many officers in the “reactionary military.”
At the same time, the 78-year old Sison reminded Duterte, 72, “that we are well past the age of retirement” both in the NPA and the Armed Forces, thus the President “should not try to project an image of being a strutting young fighter at my expense.”
The two have recently been trading words over their health, with Duterte claiming in his second state of the nation address that Sison has colon cancer and the CPP founder dismissing this as a lie.
Duterte also explained that his threat to bomb schools set up in Mindanao’s tribal communities did not mean he meant to kill the students as well. Neither did he, however, retract his threat, reiterating his claim that the schools operated “illegally” without permits.
“Hindi ko sinabing bobombahin ko ‘yun habang may mga bata, kundi ‘yung wala nang bata kaya nga pinapaalis ko na sila doon (I did not say I would bomb them when the children are there, that’s why I told them to leave),” he said.
“Sisirain ko kasi ginagamit niyo sirain (I will destroy them because you use them to destroy the) mental health of children, they will grow up hating the government),” he added.
Duterte uttered the threat against the tribal schools at a press conference after he confronted leftist protesters at the end of his second SONA.
But the Save Our Schools Network refuted Duterte’s claim, which echo earlier accusations by the military, presenting certificates, permits and awards for the learning centers, including the award-winning Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development or ALCADEV in Surigao del Sur, whose administrator, Emerito Samarca, was murdered along with two Manobo leaders by a military-backed militia in September 2015, triggering what is considered one of the largest evacuations of lumad.
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