Calls  the rebels as mere bandits

END OF THE INSURGENCY? President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday (March 18) said that he is confident that the decades-long insurgency problem of the country will soon come to its end with Eastern Visayas could be among the first areas in the country to be cleared. The President was in Tacloban City to attend the national and regional task forces to end local communist armed conflict meeting. (PNA)

TACLOBAN CITY-President Rodrigo Duterte said that he is confident that the long -running communist insurgency problem of the country will soon come to its end or at least before he steps down next year.
The President made this assertion as he attended on Thursday (March 18) the national and regional task forces to end local communist armed conflict (ELCAC) held at the Summit Hotel, this city.
All the governors of the region, with the exception of Samar Governor Reynolds Michael Tan, were present during the event which was marked by a power failure just minutes before the President arrived at the venue.
In his presentation on the insurgency problem of the region, Social Welfare Sec. Rolando Joselito Bautista, who once served as the deputy commanding officer of the 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City,  said that since the Duterte administration implemented its ‘whole-of-nation approach’ under Executive Order Number 70 in 2018, only four out of the region’s 11 communist fronts are remaining with around 1,000 regular members or New People’s Army have surrendered.
Also, 200 villages in the region have already been declared as insurgency-free with all the six provinces, seven cities and 137 towns declaring the armed group of the Communist Party of the Philippines as ‘persona non grata.’
“I know this problem could not be solved overnight that is why I am asking for the cooperation and the solidarity of all sectors in ending this conflict once and for all,” he said.
“With your support and patriotism, I am confident that we will triumph over the challenges ahead of us. Be assured that the entire force pf the Filipino people though the hands of the government os behind you as well to secure a genuine and lasting peace for our motherland,” the President added.
He also claimed that the communist party here in the Philippines have lost its ideology and what they are doing is plain banditry.
“The communist has not achieved anything at all, I have not seen any progress in their movement). Rather, it has become a group of bandits solely,” the President said.
During the meeting, the President reiterated his order to the military to kill armed rebels and said that not in the million years of fighting that the communist group will succeed in their fight against the government.
Duterte said his administration did its best to have a peace agreement with the Communist Party of the Philippines, but its founding chairperson, Jose Maria Sison, lacked sincerity.
“I cannot fathom the brain of Sison however you prick it, it’s gone. He has, I don’t know, if dementia or something. He keeps on transferring from one topic to another that finally I thought that peace through negotiation with them is impossible. So I gave up although I tried everything,” he added.
Duterte also expressed his sadness that communist rebels continue to stay in the mountains to fight the government troops.
Despite the continuing insurgency in the country, Duterte is happy that the government, through the NTF and RTF ELCAC, made big achievement in fighting the communists.
Duterte also promised that the government will continue to support the former rebels.
Eastern Visayas is one of the country’s poorest regions with the existence of armed insurgency cited as among its reasons.
During his more than one-hour speech, Duterte teased both Sen. Christopher ‘Bong’ Go and Labor Sec.Silvestre Bello III.
On Go, his long-time confidant, the President addressed as him ‘President’ while Bello as ‘senator.’
Go, in a separate interview here, insisted that he is not entertaining about the 2022 presidential elections saying that his visits around the country should not be misinterpreted that he is seeking the presidency.
“Pagkatapos ng proklamasyon ko bilang senador, pinuntahan ko ang ating mga kababayan na nasunugan, nabahaan, nalindol, naputukan ng bulkan. Hindi ko po matiis na maupo sa opisina at magpalamig lang doon. (Pinupunthan ko) an ating mga kababayaan na nangangailangan ng tulong,” he said, parrying the question.