The country has “so many problems” that “if you were the president of a nation such as this, you would be tempted to hang yourself.”
So confessed President Duterte during an agrarian reform program in General Santos City, South Cotabato, on Thursday where he distributed certificates of land ownership to 13,595 beneficiaries.
Among the problems Duterte referred to was the longstanding communist insurgency and the illegal drug trade, two topics he often dwelt on during his speeches.
Thursday’s event was no exception, with the President describing the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels as a spent force that has run out of bullets and food.
“Whether you agree or not, you New People’s Army, the communists, you are about to end,” Duterte said. Distributing lands to poor farmers was his way of making the communist insurgency irrelevant, he added.
New gov’t peace panel
In April, the President said he might create a new peace negotiating panel despite his earlier pronouncements terminating the peace talks with the rebels.
The new government peace panel will be composed of three members from the military and two civilians, Duterte said.
At the same time, the President urged the communist rebels to lay down their arms, pointing out that they had been unable to occupy even a single barangay in the past half-century.
“To the communists, come down. I’ll give you a small condo, the same condo that I allot for the military and police. Yours will be smaller but it’s a house that you can live in. It’s habitable, so to speak,” he said.
“I’ll give you a job. I will send you to school for skills training,” the President added.
Under Administrative Order No. 10 released by Malacañang in April 2018, all former rebels are entitled to benefits under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP), which is being handled by the interagency Task Force Balik-Loob led by the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Under E-CLIP, each former rebel will receive P15,000 in cash and P50,000 as livelihood aid.
In his speech, the President cited China, which, he said, has become a “controlled capitalist” and “market-driven economy.” There are no more communist countries, he said.
“But the Philippines is letting itself be deceived,” Duterte added.
Early on in his speech, the President ordered his security group to remove the bulletproof glass panel in front of him, part of the “highest security protocols” accorded him during events held in open areas.
“Don’t shoot us politicians because we are just serving you,” he said. “Why would you shoot me when I did nothing wrong to you?” he jested. —WITH A REPORT FROM ORLANDO B. DINOY
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