LAST RESPECTS. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte pays his last respects to one of the slain police officers as he visits the wake at Camp Lt. Col. Francisco C. Fernandez Jr. in Sibulan, Negros Oriental on July 20, 2019. During his visit, the President honors the four police officers who were killed in an ambush by suspected communist rebels last July 18. (Presidential Photo)

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has further raised to PHP7 million the bounty for suspects in the killings of four police officers in Negros Oriental last July.

“May promise ako ‘di ba? Six million na. O seven million na ngayon (I made a promise, didn’t I? it’s PHP6 million already. Now, it’s PHP7 million),” Duterte said during a press briefing after the oath-taking of the Malacañang Press Corps, Malacañang Cameramen Association, and Presidential Photojournalists Association in Malacañang on Tuesday night (September10).

“Hanapin talaga ninyo ang totoo. Ang gawain lang ninyo, putulin ninyo ‘yung ulo, ilagay ninyo sa box, ‘yang Styrofoam, lagyan ninyo ng ice, at dalhin mo dito kay magtawag tayo ng press con. (Find the real killers. All you have to do is cut the head, put inside the box, Styrofoam, put some ice and bring it here. I will hold press conference),” he added.

Four intelligence operatives of the police were tortured and killed in Barangay Mabato in Ayungon town on July 18.

Following this, a spate of killings plagued the province, where a total of 13 people were killed, including a lawyer tagged as sympathetic to the New People’s Army, a former mayor of Ayungon town, an incumbent councilor and a barangay captain in Canlaon City, a school principal and his sister, and a barangay captain also in Guihulngan City.

PNP chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde had earlier blamed local communist rebels for the series of deaths, as he also cited “a scheme on the part of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA where “they sacrifice their own and then blame government forces for alleged human rights violation.”

During the 2019 Outstanding Government Workers Awards rites also at Malacañang on Tuesday, Duterte renewed his order to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to go on “full-scale” attack against the NPA.

He later clarified to the media that his order was equivalent to an “all-out war” against the CPP-NPA listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

“Walang hintuan. Magpalit-palit ‘yung isang battalion diyan na walang gamit na wala masyadong kalaban ‘yang ano.. Pagka bone-weary na ang mga sundalo, palit na naman. Tuluy-tuloy. (It will not stop. Each battalion will take turns going after the enemies. If soldiers are already bone-weary, another battalion will take place. It will be relentless),” Duterte told the media.

“At kung maaari, lumaban sila nang husto kasi hindi ako magtanggap ng surrender (And if possible, they should continue fighting because I will not accept surrender),” he added.

Duterte said he went out of his way after he appointed “hard-core communist members” in his Cabinet when he assumed presidency in 2016.

“Then I initiated talks. Dito sila sa (Here in the) Palace. The Tiamzon even. Pumunta sa Davao, nag-dinner kami. Kaibigan. No personal hatred pero hindi kami magkaintindihan (They even went to Davao, we had dinner as friends. No personal hatred but we did not understand each other),” Duterte said.

In November 2017, Duterte terminated the peace talks between the government peace panel and the CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front (NDF), amid the series of attacks launched by the NPA against government forces and civilians. (PNA)