Duterte bares plans to 'hamlet' Lumads

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 18) — The communist group continues to be a thorn on the President's side.

Speaking to Lumad leaders and barangay captains in Davao City on Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte bared a plan to keep the Lumad community away from the influence of the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

"I will hamlet them. Why? Because if they remain scattered, they are really in danger. I cannot get their loyalty if they are scattered because they are afraid to be away from each other. Kamong mga nitibo [you natives]," Duterte said in a mix of English and Bisaya.

He was quick to add "dili ta mo presuhon [I will not imprison you]" and said that this was meant to protect them in their respective territories. He also said that he would even provide the indigenous people with arms.

The "hamlets," Duterte added, would be separated by tribes.

"Walay makasulod. Walay ubang tribo. Inyo na," the President said.

[Translation: No one else can enter. No other tribe. The place is yours.]

As for those who leave the hamlet while bearing arms without authority, they could be attacked by the police or the military, Duterte said.

"Basta mag-gunit og armas, o mag-gunit og sundang, unsa ka NPA ka? A, diretso ihawa. Sugo man ni Duterte," he said.

[Translation: As long as they bear arms or bear blades, what are you an NPA? Ah, slaughter them immediately. It's Duterte's orders.]

Later in his speech he said that they may even be shot or killed.

"Pusila! Basta naa'y dala nga armas (Shoot them! As long as they are armed)," the President said, adding "pusila ug patya" (shoot and kill).

True to form, no Duterte speech is complete without his usual comments against the Catholic Church and human rights advocates.

"Hamletting" is a controversial practice of separating people into territories that are guarded by the military, and was one of the methods used by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos in a bid to root out the communist group.

The CPP has declared ceasefire with the government troops for the holidays and its 50th anniversary.

Malacañang on Wednesday said this would be for the Lumads's own good. 

"To protect them, to shield them from harassment, from undue influence, from indoctrination coming from the Left – he (Duterte) will do it for their own good and safety," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

He added he still has to ask the Defense Department for details on the President's plan.

Government forces are now on red alert this holiday season for the upcoming founding anniversary of the communist movement on December 26. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has recommended to Duterte not to reciprocate the unilateral ceasefire earlier declared by the CPP.