Stop 'terrorist acts,' AFP tells NPA
MANILA, Philippines – A week after the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) agreed to resume formal peace talks, the Philippine military called on the communists' armed wing to "put a stop to their terrorist acts."
"If the [New People's Army (NPA)] are really sincere and one with the [NDF] in their intent to resume the talks with government, they should start manifesting their intention by putting a stop to their terroristic activities which continue to harm our citizens and halt development in the communities," said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs chief Colonel Edgard Arevalo in a statement to media on Sunday, March 19.
The AFP said it recorded reports of arson and harassment by the NPA the past week, including:
- Makilala, North Cotabato – Commercial transport bus burned down on Monday, March 13;
- San Fernando, Bukidnon – Delivery van owned by Fighter Wine Company burned also on Monday;
- Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte – Community in Barangay Hinimbangam attacked, forcing 89 families to flee their homes on Wednesday, March 15. The military said "after 3 consecutive harassments" by the NPA, over 357 civilians had to flee their homes and take refuge in a nearby barangay.
"While the AFP sees that the NDF continues to push for the resumption of the peace negotiations, it is clear that they are also losing hold of their men on the ground. The NPA with their twisted ideals are attacking innocent civilians, extorting money, or burning private properties," said Arevalo, noting that the military has recorded "62 terroristic activities" by the NPA since January 1, 2017.
Arevalo said the military will continue the offensive against the NPA until President Rodrigo Duterte orders it suspended.
Backchannel talks were held in Utrecht, the Netherlands this month, and the two sides then agreed to resume negotiations.
They also committed to reinstate unilateral ceasefire declarations before the 4th round of talks scheduled in the first week of April. – Rappler.com