Nine people were shot dead over the past weekend after the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, ordered to “finish off” and “kill” communist rebels, who have been fighting the central government since 1969.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte acted legally when he ordered law enforcement agencies to kill “armed” communist rebels, his spokesman Harry Roque said.
“The president’s ‘kill, kill, kill’ order is legal because it was directed at armed rebels”, Roque said, adding that an investigation would be launched.
Over the last weekend, Philippine police, backed by military forces, killed at least nine people in a series of raids against alleged communist insurgents. Their actions sparked outrage among human rights groups and Catholic organisations, who condemned the murder of people they assume were left-wing activists, not rebels.
The communist insurgency in the Philippines has been going on since the 1960s when the Communist Party of the Philippines aimed to overthrow the official government and assume power in the country. The party’s armed wing, the New People’s Army, has since carried out multiple attacks on police and engaged in clashes with government forces. The communists have continuously called the central government an enemy of the people.
In 2016, Duterte began peace negotiations with the New People’s Army shortly after taking office. During the talks, brokered by Norway, Duterte offered the communists several positions in the cabinet. The parties, however, failed to stop the conflict as each side accused the other of escalating violence.
Since winning the 2016 presidential election, Duterte has also carried out a so-called “war on drugs” that has resulted in the deaths of thousands of Filipinos and raised accusations of extrajudicial executions by police.