In his remarks during his visit to Tandag, Surigao del Sur on Tuesday, Duterte said the rebels took away the children from their parents which aggravated the insurgency problem in the region.
He then ordered authorities to take the children home, even without the presence of a search warrant.
“Yung human trafficking (With human trafficking) it’s not only the people with selling sex slaves. Itong mga NPA, kinukuha nila ‘yung mga anak. Dinadala nila sa ibang lugar. Kunin ninyo yung mga bata at isauli ninyo sa mga nanay at tatay (The NPA rebels take the children and bring them to another place. Recover the children and return them to their mothers an fathers) because a child, a minor should not be separated from the family home,” Duterte said.
“If the child is inside the house, there’s already a crime committed. So you don’t need a warrant to go in. Puntahan sa loob at kunin ang mga bata at isauli (Go inside and get the children and return them to their parents) at the earliest opportunity,” he added.
The President also vowed to assume full responsibility in the war against the armed communist insurgency, telling law enforcers to just perform their duty.
“I assume full responsibility especially in prosecuting the war against the insurgents. Hulihin ninyo (Catch them),” he said.
Duterte made the remark after the recent rescue of 19 Davao del Norte-based Lumad children in a top Cebu school on February 15 from alleged kidnapping by a militant group.
The children were allegedly being indoctrinated to join the Communist rebel movement.
The police have filed charges of kidnapping with serious illegal detention, child exploitation and human trafficking against seven suspects allegedly responsible for abducting the children.
In 2019, 55 schools operated and owned by the Salugpungan Ta’ Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Centers in the Davao region were shut down by the Department of Education for allegedly teaching “left-leaning ideologies.”
Salugpungan claimed its schools were established to give indigenous groups in remote areas access to education.
Lawmakers, especially from the Makabayan bloc, are calling for an investigation into the rescue which the police insisted was a legitimate operation.
In the same remarks on Friday, Duterte admitted that insurgency problem was rampant in Caraga region (North and Northeastern Mindanao), citing the need to pursue development projects to address the security concern.
“I need the barangay roads to improve the insurgency problem sa lahat lalo na dito sa Mindanao. Ang pinakamalakas ang Caraga sa Eastern Visayas. Ang Caraga ang pinaka sakit sa ulo,” he said.
The President likewise denounced the communist rebel group for its alleged extortion activities.
“‘Yang mga buang (Those crazy) na NPA. They are collecting taxes everywhere and anywhere kaya may pera talaga ‘yan. May pera talaga ‘yan ( That’s why they have money. They really have money),” he said.
To help address insurgency, Duterte ordered anew Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones to hasten the distribution of agricultural lands to beneficiaries.
“Sabi ko ibigay na ninyo ang lupa. Lahat ng nakita sa gobyerno, ibigay na ninyo sa tao. Wala naman ‘yan. Hindi naman nagagamit (I told him to give away the lands, including those owned by the government, to the people. It’s not being used anyway). It is not being utilized for productivity,” he said.