“Kill them”: Duterte wants to “finish off” the communist rebels | Human rights news

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered military and police forces to “finish” and “kill” all Communist rebels in the country, raising fears that this will spark a new wave of bloodshed similar to his deadly war on the nation. drug.

“I told the army and the police that if they end up in an armed encounter with the Communist rebels, kill them, make sure you really kill them and finish them off if they are alive, ” Duterte said on Friday, as he addressed a government meeting aimed at countering communism.

“Just be sure to return their bodies to their respective families.”

“Forget about human rights. This is my order. I’m ready to go to jail, that’s not a problem, ”added the president, speaking in his native Visayan language commonly used in the southern island of Mindanao, where the meeting was held.

“I have no qualms about doing the things I need to do.”

Speaking directly to the Communist rebels, Duterte said: “You are all bandits. You have no ideology. Even China and Russia are now all capitalists. “

At the same time, he has promised them jobs, housing and a livelihood if they give up arms.

A decades-long uprising

Communist rebels have been fighting the Philippine government since 1968 – one of the oldest Maoist uprisings in the world. According to the military, the rebellion has already claimed more than 30,000 lives over the past 53 years.

Several presidents had tried, but unsuccessfully, to reach a peace deal with the rebels, whose leader, Jose Maria Sison, is now in exile in the Netherlands.

When he ran for president in 2016, Duterte vowed to finally end the rebellion through peace talks, stressing his ties to rebel commanders when he was mayor of Davao City in Mindanao, where the he communist insurrection is still active.

After taking office, Duterte ordered direct talks with the Communists, only to find the military and rebels in frequent armed encounters.

Following heavy clashes between government forces and rebels in 2017, Duterte called off the peace process and subsequently signed a proclamation calling the Communist fighters “terrorists”.

He also instigated government forces to shoot female rebels in their genitals as punishment, and offered a bounty for each rebel killed.

Later in 2018, a special anti-communism task force was formed by the president to target rebels and their supporters.

Critics and human rights activists, however, said the special body was also deployed against mainstream left-wing politicians and other critics of Duterte.

Several officials in the Duterte administration have also been accused of calling “blindly” anyone who criticizes the president, including members of the university, journalists and activists, as “communists”.

With his latest threat on Friday, there are now fears it could cause more violence similar to his war on drugs, which the government and rights groups say killed between 6,000 and over 27,000 people.

In recent months, a number of activists, lawyers and doctors were killed by unknown gunmen, after being labeled in public and on social media as active Communist sympathizers and Communist rebels.

Teddy Casino, an activist and former congressman, wrote on social media: “These are crazy levels. Even Marcos was not so blatantly brazen and brutal. Casino referred to the late Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whom Duterte worships.

In 2020, the Duterte administration also successfully pushed for the passage of the anti-terrorism law, which some legal analysts believe could also be used as legal cover for further government abuse.

In his speech on Friday, Duterte admitted that he “doesn’t understand” why the rebels are fighting.

“You have been fighting for 53 years and now I already have great grandchildren and you are still fighting,” he said.

“Do you want to overthrow the government? You don’t even have a boat.

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