The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) blocks the country's growth, said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday, the 49th founding anniversary of the group's armed wing.
Reiterating his call for the NPA to lay down their weapons from their "irrelevant" cause, President Rodrigo Duterte's Defense chief blasted what he alleged were acts of killing, extortion, and burning committed by leftist rebels.
"Kayo ang dahilan kung bakit hindi tayo umuunlad. Kayo ang tinutukoy ni President Duterte na pabigat kung kaya 'di tayo makaangat," Lorenzana said in a statement.
The NPA was founded on March 29, 1969, and has since been waging one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies.
Duterte has cut peace talks and placed a terror tag on the CPP-NPA. The Department of Justice has petitioned a Manila court to formally outlaw the rebels, as required by the Human Security Act.
"For the past 49 years, you have failed to overthrow the duly constituted government and replace the ideals of democracy with your brand of communism, despite your relatively stronger force and mass base support," Lorenzana said.
"What makes you now think that you can succeed even in the next 50 years given your dwindling number, degraded capability and lack of people's support? "
He urged CPP-NPA members to surrender and rejoin Philippine society, instead of continuing to be "blinded" by their leaders' "propaganda."
"Mga kababayan, hindi pa huli ang lahat. Tapusin na natin ang karahasan laban sa ating mga kapwa Pilipino. Bukas ang kamay ng pamahalaan upang kayo ay tanggapin, kupkupin at kalingain," he said, claiming that several former rebels have reunited with their families and are benefited by an integration program.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has intensified its anti-insurgency campaign in anticipation of what Lorenzana called the NPA's 49th year of "futile, delusional and vicious existence that is a bane to our country's peace, security and national development."
The Defense chief urged the public to vigilantly secure their communities against possible acts of intimidation, extortion, murder of civilians and arson, and ambuscades against government troops.
Meanwhile, he called the purported unilateral ceasefire declaration of the NPA for the Lenten season a "trick" to persuade the government to take up the terminated peace talks with the alleged actual purpose of "deceiv[ing] our ground forces."
"Para sa mga nalalabi pang miyembro ng NPA, panahon na para kayo ay magbalik-loob sa lipunan. Talikuran ang karahasan at ang mapanlinlang na ideyolohiya na inyong ipinaglalaban. Alalahanin ninyo ang higit na kapakanan ng inyong mga pamilya, at ng sambayanan," he said. —KG, GMA News