President Duterte wages war vs NPA; tells AFP, PNP to use all gov’t assets

DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered on Thursday the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to wage a war and use all assets of the government against the New People’s Army (NPA).

“I asked the Armed Forces and the police to go ahead and wage a war against them. I will allow the police and the military this time to use all available assets,” the President told reporters during his visit to the wake of slain police officers in Digos City, Davao del Sur on Thursday.

Duterte said they could even use rockets in their fight against the NPA rebels. He branded the latest NPA attack as “ideological cannibalism.”

Duterte on Thursday afternoon visited the wake of the three police officers who were killed in an ambush perpetrated by about 20 suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Sibayan, Bansalan, Davao del Sur last Wednesday.

The ambush killed PO1 Saro Mangotara, PO1 Joey Narvaza and PO1 Rolly Benelayo, all from the Bansalan Municipal Police Station and Scene of the Crime Operation investigator PO3 Jayden May Rabor. PO3 Allen Arnado survived the attack.

Mangotara, a member of PNP Scout Class 107-2016 “Himagsik,” was immediately buried in accordance with Muslim traditions. He was a Maranao.

The police team left at around 6:30 a.m. on board a patrol car for Sibayan, which is about 12 kilometers from Bansalan town proper, to investigate a reported crime incident the night before.

The bodies of the slain cops bore multiple gunshot wounds.

“It’s a question of honor. Alam mo (You know) we fight a war and as the revolutionary ideology would put it, it’s a kind of ideological cannibalism because you devour your own kind. You kill your own brother and sisters in thy name in the altar of revolution,” the President said when asked if there was an overkill.

Duterte said the police officers who went to Sibayan to respond to the crime incident were not combatants. SOCO, he said, is a unit under the police, and the members are not even allowed to bring firearms.

“It was a well-laid trap,” the President said of the attack.

He was saddened that a woman, the SOCO investigator, was included.

The President emphasized it is always his wish to achieve a just and lasting peace even at the start of his presidency.

He noted he extended his hand to the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF) yet “they terminated the ceasefire on February 1.”

The President responded and lifted the unilateral ceasefire and called off the peace negotiations after an attack on soldiers in February in Bukidnon. Lilian Mellejor/