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Senator Gregorio Honasan on Friday downplayed President Duterte’s statements telling soldiers to shoot down armed members of the New People’s Army (NPA) right away and disregard human rights.

“The President’s statement should not be taken literally,” Honasan, chair of the Senate committee on national defense and security as well as the committee on peace, unification and reconciliation, said.

Instead of harping on the Duterte’s latest controversial statement, the senator said the focus should be on how the Chief Executive’s directives are being effectively implemented, “not the shallow issue on how his plans are verbally delivered.”

Besides, Honasan said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) members know their constitutional mandate and that is to uphold the country’s sovereignty and preserve the patrimony of the Republic.

“That goes without saying, the inclusion of the protection of rights of the citizens. It just happens that the President has a unique vocabulary in describing his vision,” he said.

The President’s pronouncements came a day after government forces killed 15 suspected NPA members, including five women, in separate encounters in Nasugbu, Batangas and several days after ordering the cancellation of peace talks with the communist rebel group.

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