President Rodrigo Duterte (Presidential Photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo R. Duterte said Tuesday there is a need to improve barangay (village) roads in Mindanao, especially in the Caraga region, to address the insurgency there.

The President said this after Surigao del Sur Governor Alexander Pimentel requested to borrow equipment from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to repair barangay roads damaged by massive flooding during the onslaught of Tropical Storm Auring.

Duterte assured enough funds and equipment for the province, saying the repair of roads would also address threats posed by insurgent groups.

He also asked Pimentel to submit to him a report on the ongoing road improvements being done.

“I need the barangay roads to improve the insurgency problem sa lahat dito, lalo na sa (especially in) Mindanao. The pinaka-malakas is Caraga, sa Eastern Visayas (It is strongest in Caraga and Eastern Visayas),” he said in a situation briefing in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.

Duterte also urged the military to retrieve children who were allegedly recruited by the New People’s Army (NPA) to become armed guerrillas.

“Itong mga NPA, kinukuha nila 'yung mga anak, dinadala nila sa ibang lugar. Kunin ninyo 'yung bata at isauli ninyo sa nanay pati tatay (These NPA rebels, they recruit the sons and daughters and bring them to different places. Bring them back to their mothers and fathers) because a child, a minor, should not be separated from the family home,” he said.

Soldiers, he said, do not need to have search warrants to enter the homes of insurgents who allegedly mold children into warriors.

“If the child is inside the house, there is already a crime committed, so you do not need a warrant to go in. Puntahan mo sa loob, kunin 'yung mga bata at isauli mo (Go inside, take the children, and bring them back) at the earliest opportunity,” Duterte added.

He said he would assume full responsibility in executing the war against the insurgency.

Duterte lamented about how the NPA became rich because rebels collect revolutionary taxes “everywhere and anywhere.”

Saying that “Mindanao remains to be a problem," he reiterated his call to Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones to implement land reform in Caraga.

“Kaya si Castriciones, sabi ko ang land reform kasi niya covers only the 'yung mga hindi nga agricultural e. Sabi ko sa kanya, ibigay na ninyo yung lupa. Lahat ng makita ko sa gobyerno, ibigay ninyo sa tao (That’s why I told Castriciones that his land reform only covers non-agricultural lands. Give them land. All the government land you can see, give them to the people),” he said. (PNA)