Defense chief Lorenzana: Government still accepting NPAs who surrender

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 26) — The government is still encouraging members of rebel groups to come down and surrender, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Sunday.

This, after President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday took a swipe at New People's Army (NPA) and communist party founder Jose Maria Sison, threatening to "raise the bar" in fighting the group and stop taking in surrenderees.

"Just with the NPAs, puro mayabang. Akala mo naman. Pati ako, tinatakot ng ulol. Itong Sison na ito, comatose daw ako. Ulol. Wala namang Navy. Walang Army, walang helicopter. Wala ngang CAFGU. Walang Air Force. Tapos kung magsalita, akala mo sino. Maniwala ka niyan. Iyang ambush-ambush lang," he told government troops in Sulu.

[Translation: NPA members are arrogant. These fools even threaten me. Sison said I'm comatose. Fool. They don't have a navy, army, air force, helicopter, or even CAFGU, but they speak as if they're somebody. Don't believe them, they can only ambush people.]

"But next time around, we will raise the bar higher. Sabi ko ‘pag magdating ang [garbled] wala ng surrender-surrender. P***** i**. Fight ka diyan hanggang mamatay ka. Hindi na mag-accept ng surrender. Pabalik-balik kayo," he added.

[Translation: I said when the time comes, there will no longer be surrendering. Son of b****. Fight until you die. We will no longer accept surrenderees. You always go back.]

In a text message to CNN Philippines, Lorenzana said he has yet to talk to the President about what he meant by the remark, but maintained that the government's current policy on surrenderees remains unchanged.

"[There's no] new policy on surrender, our current policy stands. We want them to come down and take advantage of the benefits offered by the government," he said.

Under the government's "Comprehensive Local Intergration Program," former rebels who surrender and go back to their normal life are given financial assistance.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines in March said a total of 4,356 regular members and supporters of the NPA have surrendered to the government from January to March 15 this year.

CNN Philippines' Robert Vergara and Janine Peralta contributed to this report.