By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is prepared to give housing and livelihood assistance to New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who will surrender to authorities, President Duterte said last Tuesday night.
The President promised to take care of the rebel returnees as he rallied behind the localized peace negotiations pursued by his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
“I am addressing myself to all the soldiers of the New People’s Army — mag-surrender na lang kayo ngayon at ibaba ninyo ang inyong baril o i-surrender ninyo [surrender now and lay down your arms],” he said during a press conference in Davao City last Tuesday night.
“Kung mag-surrender kayo, ayaw na ninyo gusto ng patayan, or pumatay ng kapwa mo Pilipino, mag-surrender ka na. Bigyan kita ng bahay automatic, at bigyan kita ng trabaho [If you surrender, you don’t like any more bloodshed or you don’t want to kill another Filipino, simply surrender. I will automatically give you a house and a job],” he added.
The President, however, said his job and housing offer to the rebel returnees was “not an honorarium thing.” “You have to work for it,” he said.
Duterte voiced support for his daughter’s peace initiative with the communist rebels.
“Itong kay Inday na local initiative [On Indyay’s local initiative], I am encouraging her. And to the New People’s Army, do not take it so badly. Wala namang pilitan ‘to eh. ‘Yung gusto lang magpahinga [This is not compulsory. It’s for those who want to rest],” he said.
“If you are tired killing another human being, you’re always invited to go back mainstream. Balik kayo dito at alagaan ko kayo [Just come back and I will take care of you] and eventually, just to prepare you for the entry into the society’s mainstream,” he added.
Duterte admitted that he would “talk continuously” with the rebel group despite the recent setbacks in the peace negotiations.
“Fifty years in the making, then you face another 50 years. We can talk continuously with the left. I am not about ready to give up everything and anything in the altar of peace for our country,” he said.
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