AdChoiceTV News — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday (March 5) swore he did not steal government funds but has his faults, like extrajudicial killings.
“Government is not perfect,” Duterte said at a meeting of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Eclac) in Cagayan de Oro City.
“Faults? Me? Plenty. But I don’t steal money,” he said. “I just have cases of extrajudicial killings. We will get there,” he added.
In his hour-long speech delivered in Bisaya, Duterte ranted at communist rebels, accusing them of using the poor in remote areas and extorting money from them.
“You are all bandits. You don’t have an ideology,” Duterte said of members of New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging a countryside revolution for more than 50 years now.
He said the rebels’ ideology was already extinct as “China and Russia are already capitalists.” The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) collapsed at the height of popular peaceful revolts in USSR territories while the People’s Republic of China (PROC) continued to run a socialist type of government but had embraced capitalism.
In what has become his classic line for the military and police when the insurgency comes up, the President said if the state forces clash with rebels, “kill them, kill them.”
“Finish them off,” Duterte said in his address to the NTF-Eclac.
“If they hold firearms, kill them,” he said. “Return their bodies to their families,” he added.
Duterte told police and military to disregard human rights.
“That’s my order, I will go to jail. There’s no problem with it. I don’t have qualms about doing the things that I have to do,” Duterte said.
Addressing the rebels, the President said they should stop pretending about having their own government in areas where they operate.
“Why would you make us believe that you are government? Where is your hospital? Where are your ambulances? Where are your treasurers?” Duterte said.
He also belittled the communist movement’s capacity to wrest political power. “How can you topple government? I won’t allow you to topple government.”
Duterte urged communist fighters to lay down their firearms and rejoin mainstream society, luring them with offers of jobs, houses and opportunities for education and skills training.
“I can give you houses when you surrender. The houses are ready, there is always room for you to seek shelter,” he said.
“We welcome you,” he added.
Reporting by Letizia Tinoco