Duterte orders police, military: Shoot an armed NPA rebel if you see one

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FILE PHOTO. President Rodrigo Duterte

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 30) — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the police and military to shoot armed communist rebels who will soon be declared terrorists.

"They will kill you anyway. So if there is an armed NPA (New People's Army) there or terrorists, if he's holding any firearms, shoot," Duterte said Wednesday during the send-off of Vietnamese fishermen at the Sual Wharf in Pangasinan.

Duterte said an executive order is in the works to formalize the declaration of communist rebels as terrorists. He announced this earlier, after the death of a four-month-old baby and two other civilians in a November 9 ambush of the NPA in Bukidnon.

"I am preparing now. They are preparing the executive order declaring them to be terrorists and they will be afforded the treatment of being criminals," Duterte said.

This follows Duterte's issuance of Proclamation 360, terminating peace negotiations with the communist rebels. The talks failed to end the 48-year-old armed insurgency waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines, with the NPA as its armed wing.

Read more: Duterte formally ends talks with Reds

Duterte warned the police and military to be vigilant as NPA members are "now on the offensive."

"That is why I said, 'Kayong mga pulis, just a little bit of vigilance.' The sparrows are really active," he said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) earlier said they are bracing for more NPA attacks following the end of peace talks. The military supposedly received intelligence reports that the NPA's higher command has directed its fighters to launch more tactical offensives.

Read: Military to step up offensives as it expects NPA attacks

There are around 3,800 NPA fighters in the country, the AFP said.

Duterte reiterated, it would be better for soldiers to kill themselves and "die with dignity" than to let rebels capture them alive.

"May baril kayo with three magazines. 'Yung dalawang magazine para sa kalaban 'yan. 'Yung isang magazine maiwan, para sa iyo 'yan. Para sa bunganga mo 'yan," he said.

[Translation: "You have a gun with three magazines. The two magazines are for the enemies. The other is for you, for your mouth."]

Robredo disagrees

Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday disagreed with the President's order to shoot rebels, saying it would violate due process that must still be accorded to the accused.

"Kung pinapayagan natin na ilagay sa ating mga kamay iyong batas, parang pinapawalang-bisa natin iyong ating demokrasya, pinapawalang-bisa natin iyong rule of law at iyon iyong simula para magkagulo-gulo tayo," Robredo said when asked to comment about the President's statement.

[Translation: "When we allow the law to be put in people's hands, we seem to void democracy and rule of law and this will be the start of disorder."]

Duterte: I will answer to rights groups

Duterte in his speech also promised to stand by his men in case of mistaken identity. 

"Ngayon, kung balut vendor pala 'yang binira mo, eh… Pasensya. Tawagin mo ako kay aregluhin natin," he said.

[Translation: "Now if you kill a balut vendor… Sorry. Call me and we will settle."]

In doing their duty, policemen and soldiers should not mind groups raising human rights concerns, Duterte said.

"Do not answer (to) that issue of human rights, you say, "Go to Duterte. It is and was his order," he said.

Local and human rights groups have criticized the President for his bloody war on drugs, saying his pronouncements have led to up to 13,000 deaths of suspects in the hands of policemen or vigilante groups.

Government data show over 3,900 drug suspects were killed in police operations since the start of the anti-drug campaign in July 2016.

CNN Philippines' Triciah Terada contributed to this report.