MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte finds reason to hope that the communist insurgency, the longest insurgency in Asia, will finally end in 2019.
He voiced this hope on Tuesday, September 18, as he spoke to soldiers of the 5th Infantry Division in Camp Melchor Dela Cruz in Isabela.
"I think that kung maawa ang Panginoong Diyos (with God's mercy), this will be over by about the 2nd quarter of next year. Ang rami na kasi nagsu-surrender (So many have surrendered)," said Duterte.
One indicator that added to his confidence is how some NPA rebels have gone as far as surrendering their guns to the government.
"Usually, they really don't bring weapons with them, it's really prohibited, they will get killed. But this time, they are coming down and surrendering with their guns," said Duterte in a mix of English and Filipino.
In the same speech, he said almost 100 NPA members in Isabela have given themselves up while 45 firearms were recovered.
Duterte said even NPA leaders have surrendered, giving a boost to the military's counter-insurgency efforts.
"Even their leaders are surrendering. What they say is a big deal. The intelligence units can get to work based on what the surrenderees or surrenderors are telling them," said the President.
He then described the NPA as reduced to a "ragtag" force in most parts of the country.
"Here it’s just a matter of ragtag except maybe Samar – Samar, Quezon," said Duterte.
The President commended the 5th Infantry Division for its efforts against security threats in the area, including the NPA. He conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu on 4 soldiers.
This was Duterte's first speech in a military camp after the issuance of Proclamation No 572 seeking to void Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's amnesty.
It was also the first such speech after his rare outburst at the military in relation to his controversial order. Duterte made no mention of Trillanes or the proclamation. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.