Updated 06:33 AM PHT Mon, February 6, 2017
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Duterte said on Sunday he now considers the country's biggest communist organization as a terrorist group.
This includes the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its sub-group the New People's Army (NPA) and the National Democratic Front (NDF).
"The opposition and administration, we have always considered the Communist Party of the Philippines as enemy of the state," Duterte told the media in Cagayan De Oro City.
The president said he categorized the whole communist organization as a terrorist group because the CPP-NPA-NDF "were killing his soldiers" despite declaring a unilateral ceasefire.
The CPP-NPA-NDF announced it is lifting its ceasefire with the government on February 10, but Duterte preempted it last Friday.
Duterte said he couldn't meet the CPP's demands to free 400 political prisoners.
"Why do you kill a government soldier 73 times? Anong tingin mo sa sundalo? Aso? [What do you thing of soldiers? Dogs?"] Duterte said amid curses.
On Sunday, he visited the wake of three soldiers slain in anti-rebel encounters last February 1 in Bukidnon.
The soldiers, who were unarmed and not in uniform at the time, each sustained at least 24 gunshot wounds.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines said the soldiers were killed when the ceasefire was still in effect.
"I went out of my way, sometimes being humbled when they retort to insulting remarks. Nilunok ko yan [I endured that] because I wanted to end a 50-year-old war. But it seems to me na itong mga terorista, want another 50 wars of killing Filipinos," Duterte said.
The president said he was "desperately trying" to end the war between rebels and the government.
But the tables have turned. Duterte threatened to have the communists jailed unless they surrender.
Duterte said he would have the international police issue warrants against CPP members abroad - even his former professor and CPP founder Joma Sison.
But the president said the communists are free to seek asylum in other countries.
Duterte clarified the government's plan against the rebels. He said they will only react to the CPP's actions.
"They can begin their attacks and we are prepared," the president said, stressing the government has military assets.