Threat of communist attacks and extortion continues to be a central concern for the Philippines
Manila: President Rodrigo Duterte has said he plans to increase the reward he offered earlier for every communist insurgent killed.
The Philippine leader said he would raise the amount from P25,000 (Dh1,754) to P100,000 (Dh7,019).
“When Sison [Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA)] gave the order to insurgents to kill one soldier per day, I gave an incentive to troops that they’ll get P25,000 for every dead rebel in response. Later on, I did some computation and thought of raising it the bounty instead to P100,000 (Dh7,064),” Duterte said.
Duterte was speaking to members of the Chinese Filipino Business Club on Monday night when he mentioned plans to raise the bounty offer.
The threat of rebel attacks and extortion continues to be a central concern — not just for the Chinese-Filipino business community, but the country in general.
The Philippines continues to confront the 50-year-old CPP-NPA, which the government says remains to be the biggest threat to national security.
Duterte said when he computed the number or rebels still remaining, which he said “cannot have been more than 3,000”, he concluded the government could afford to pay a bigger bounty for every communist insurgent killed.
“No need to bring me the body. Just bring me the head, place it inside a Styrofoam box and show it to me,” he said.
Duterte tried to restart peace negotiations with the leadership of the CPP-NPA led by Sison at the start of his term in mid-2016.
However due to continuing attacks against government forces and private businesses, the president last year called off the negotiations.
During his speech at the Chinese-Filipino Business Club the President mentioned that Norway, which served as facilitator of the peace negotiations, had reached out to him and informed him of the possibility of resuming the parlays.
The president said he would consult the armed forces before deciding on returning to the peace negotiating table.
“So I’m talking to the communists. The Norwegian officials came here to explore the possibility of talking again. I have to consult my military people. Why? Because they are the ones dying … It’s not me. So I told them [rebel panel negotiators] I will talk to the military,” he said.
“However, at this point, I won’t waste my time with them. I am not thinking about it even. Why? Because now it’s beyond my control,” he said.
The current administration had been pursuing a tack on enticing individual or groups of rebels to return to the folds of law instead of high profile peace negotiations.
Duterte had used a hands on approach in enticing the rebels to surrender. Last February 6, the President welcomed some 215 rebel surrenderees to the palace as a gesture of embracing them back to the folds of law. The former insurgents were given cash as well as livelihood. Today, February 20, a second batch of ex-insurgents will dine at the palace with Duterte.
The group is composed of 241 ex-rebels mostly from Compostela Province and Davao Del Norte. Thirty-eight of them are female while 203 are males. They are part of the 683 former NPAs from different parts of Eastern Mindanao that were presented to the President on December 21, 2017, at Panacan, Davao City.