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Duterte warns: Expect ‘radical change’ in gov’t war on rebels

By: Julie M. Aurelio - Philippine Daily Inquirer August 29,2019 - 11:06 AM

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday warned of a “very radical change” in the government’s war on communist insurgency, terrorism and illegal drugs.

The President reminded the Armed Forces of the Philippines to end the Maoist rebellion “now,” assuring the public that this would not be bloody, but would entail “a little trouble” for the country.

“In the coming days, there will be a very, very radical change in the behavior of the government,” the President told agrarian reform beneficiaries in Quezon City on Tuesday night.

“You might win or you may lose… that is something to be seen but I intend to call the attention of the military guys here,” Mr. Duterte added.

The President told the military that it was urgent for them to quell the insurgency, a burden that he said should not be passed on to the next government.

“I do not think that we can afford to wage a war for another 53 years, so I am telling the military, ‘Can we end it now?’ We cannot afford to pass it on to the next generation. They might be unable to handle it. It has to be now,” the President said.

“I’m serving notice to everybody that in the coming months, it will be not really bloody, but there will be at least, a little trouble for our country,” Mr. Duterte added.

40,000 dead

The long-running Maoist rebellion has left at least 40,000 dead, with the New People’s Army rebels continuing to pose a serious threat to security even though their ranks have been whittled down to 4,000 over the years.

On top of this, the government has to deal with the threat of Isis in Southeast Asia and the scourge of illegal drugs, which it has been trying to root out with a brutal campaign that has killed thousands of drug suspects and drawn international condemnation.

The President, who shelved peace talks with the communist rebels two years ago, said that waging an armed struggle or revolution to seek immediate reforms was no longer “in vogue.”

“You cannot win a fight for social justice or for a better life in your country if you go to revolution. It won’t work.  You can’t even control a single barangay,” he said.

He also took a swipe at the rebels, telling them that the agrarian reform program would still be implemented regardless of their armed struggle.

“Even if you did not exist, land reform would still be the program of any government here in the Philippines. That’s the truth. Because even without the element of violence and armed struggle, the time will come that you have to equitably distribute the land to the people,” said Mr. Duterte, who distributed land titles covering more than 87,000 hectares of land in Luzon during Tuesday’s event.

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