COME HOME AND FIGHT
DIGONG CHALLENGES JOMA SISON
Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental — President Rodrigo Duterte last night challenged Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison to return to the country and “fight” alongside his comrades as he reiterated a call for tougher action against communist rebels.
The President, who was in this city to condole with the families of the six policemen killed in the July 21 ambush by New People’s Army guerillas, said this of Sison:
“If he is a true revolutionary leader, he should come home and join his people. The NPA members should realize this that while they are fighting in the field, their leader is living a comfortable life abroad,” said Duterte in mixed English and Tagalog.
Duterte said Sison should come home instead of watching his men dying in the battlefield.
Duterte also instructed the government troops to stop the rebels from collecting the so-called “revolutionary tax.”
“Starting today, I am instructing the military and the police not to call it a revolutionary tax because it is plain extortion. They should arrest and file charges against anyone involved in such activity,” said Duterte.
Duterte’s hard line stance against the communist rebels came amid the series of NPA attacks on government forces, including the ambush in Guihulngan City that claimed the lives of a civilian and six policemen, the worst atrocity attributed to the NPA in recent years in the Visayas.
Sympathy written all over his face, Duterte condoled with the families of the six policemen who were killed in the NPA ambush in Sitio Mandi-e, Barangay Magsaysay here.
A somber President talked to the families of Supt. Arnel Delorino Arpon, the city’s slain police chief, and those of SPO2 Necasio Pasculado Tabilon, SPO1 Jesael Pequero Ancheta, PO3 Teovic Gador Agosto, PO2 Alvin Paul Alquizola Bulandres and PO2 Alfredo Lastimoso Dunque.
Except for Arpon and Ancheta, the remains of the slain policemen were brought to the Guihulngan City Hall for the awarding of Medalya ng Kadakilaan (PNP Heroism Medal).
The wake of Arpon is being held at his home in the neighboring Hinoba-an town in Negros Occidental while the remains of Ancheta have been brought to his hometown, La Libertad, Negros Oriental.
The six policemen, headed by Arpon, were waylaid on July 21 while on their way to respond to an earlier ambush staged against Guihulngan City Councilor Edison dela Rita.
Dela Rita and his driver survived the attack but his security escort, Michael Jambalos, was killed.
Duterte handed financial assistance to the families but after comforting each of them, the mood changed when the President returned to his tough-talking stance as he didn’t mince words in lambasting Sison.
“I came here to share with the sorrow of the families and I also came here to challenge Sison to come home and fight. If he wants, I can meet him and we will face one-on-one,” said Duterte, who was accompanied by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino and some local officials.
Be it a soldier, a policeman, an NPA member or a Moro, Duterte said it pains him to see someone dying as a result of the insurgency war.
“If only there’s a way where I do not have to kill a fellow Filipino, then they I’ll do it. This has been going on for 50 years and now they want another 50 years of killing,” the President said.
Duterte said the government will beef up its military forces in dealing with insurgency.
Duterte said he will increase the number of soldiers by mobilizing 20 battalions from Special Action Force (SAF), the PNP’s elite commando unit.
While expressing readiness to go all-out against the rebels, Duterte said the government is open to ending the conflict peacefully.
“They can surrender to their barangays. I’ll let them join the military provided that they undergo training. They can keep their guns as souvenirs as long as they surrender,” the President said.
Fight without hatred
Duterte reminded the government troops that the recent atrocities perpetrated by the NPA rebels should not get the better of them.
“Don’t go to the battlefield with hatred in your heart because you tend to become reckless. You have to fight smart,” said Duterte.
Duterte said communism has to stop “because this has been producing a new generation of haters.”
Duterte shared that the two sons of SPO2 Tabilon, aged 19 and 16, asked him if they could be enlisted in the military.
“I told them ‘no.’ They have to finish their studies. This is the result of the recent attacks by the NPA. Now there are children who no longer have fathers and they want to take revenge,” he said.
He said the government will shoulder the education of the children of the slain policemen.
The relatives of the slain policemen each received P250,000 from the government another P250,000 from Duterte.
“The widows will be given livelihood. We will enroll them in Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) where they will get monthly rice and financial allowance,” Duterte said.
The families of the slain policemen were elated with Duterte’s visit, which lasted for almost an hour.
Clad in black polo shirt, denim pants and sneakers, Duterte arrived at the City Hall from Dumaguete City at 6:27 p.m. and left at 7:20 p.m. for Dumaguete, where he boarded a private plane back to Manila.
“Somehow, we felt relieved that he visited us because we were given importance. He assured us that we will be given livelihood and that our children’s education will be taken cared of,” said Norelie, the 50-year-old widow of SPO2 Tabilon.
Evelyn, the 27-year-old wife of PO2 Dunque, thanked the President for assuring that the government will be providing them with the needed assistance.
“He gave us cell phones and told us to call him if we need some help,” Evelyn said.
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