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