Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military and police forces to “finish off” and “kill” all communist rebels in the country, leading to fears that this could spark a new wave of bloodshed, similar to his deadly war against Drugs.

“I have told the military and the police that if they are in an armed encounter with the communist rebels, kill them, make sure you really kill them and take them out if they are alive,” Duterte said on Friday. when addressing a government meeting to counter communism.

“Just make sure you give their bodies back to their respective families.”

“Forget human rights. This is my order. I am ready to go to jail, it is not a problem, ”added the president, speaking in his native Visayan language, which is common on the southern island of Mindanao, where the meeting was held.

“I have no qualms about doing the things I have to do.”

Duterte addressed the communist rebels directly and said, “You are all bandits. You have no ideology. Even China and Russia are all capitalists now. “

At the same time he promised them work, shelter and livelihood if they gave up their arms.

Decades of uprising

The communist rebels have been fighting the government in the Philippines since 1968 – one of the longest-running Maoist uprisings in the world. According to the military, the uprising has claimed more than 30,000 lives over the past 53 years.

Several presidents had tried but failed to reach a peace agreement with the rebels, whose leader Jose Maria Sison is now in self-exile in the Netherlands.

When he ran for president in 2016, Duterte promised to finally end the uprising through peace talks and highlighted his ties to rebel commanders when he was mayor of Davao City in Mindanao, where the communist uprising is still active.

After taking office, Duterte ordered direct talks with the communists, only to find the military and the rebels in frequent armed encounters.

After violent clashes between government forces and rebels in 2017, Duterte broke off the peace process and later signed a proclamation calling the communist fighters “terrorists”.

He also incited government forces to shoot female rebels in their genitals as punishment and offered a bounty to each rebel killed.

Later in 2018, the president formed a special anti-communism task force to investigate the rebels and their supporters.

However, critics and human rights activists said the special panel would also be used against left-wing mainstream politicians and other critics of Duterte.

Several Duterte administration officials were also accused of “indiscriminately” calling “communists” people who criticize the president, including academy members, journalists and activists.

Rodrigo Duterte just gave the police and the military an order to march against communists: “Kill them all”. Please read about what happened in Indonesia in the 1960s when the government decided to kill and exterminate all communists.

– Philip Jamilla (@pmjamilla) March 5, 2021

Given his recent threat on Friday, there are now fears that it could lead to more violence, similar to his war on drugs, which killed between 6,000 and more than 27,000 people, according to government and rights groups.

In recent months, a number of activists, lawyers and doctors have been killed by unknown armed men after being tagged in public and on social media as communist sympathizers and active communist rebels.

Teddy Casino, an activist and former member of Congress, wrote on social media, “These are insane levels. Not even Marcos was so brazen and brutal. “Casino was referring to the late Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whom Duterte revered.

In 2020, the Duterte government also successfully campaigned for the anti-terrorism law to be passed, which some legal analysts have warned could also serve as legal cover for further government abuses.

In his speech on Friday, Duterte admitted that he “doesn’t understand” what the rebels are fighting for.

“You have fought for the past 53 years and now I have great-grandchildren and you are still fighting,” he said.

“Do you want to overthrow the government? You don’t even have a boat. “

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