Palace condemns 'opportunistic' NPA attack in Iloilo
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang condemned the raid of an Iloilo police station by the New People’s Army (NPA), saying it is a step back for peace talks between the government and communists.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella, in a press conference on Monday, June 19, pointed out the timing of the attack at the Maasin, Iloilo police station.
“It’s unfortunate that the NPA raid of a police station in Iloilo happened on the same day the government reciprocated the National Democratic Front’s [NDF] declaration to refrain from undertaking offensive operations in Mindanao,” he said.
The Iloilo raid – during which no police or civilian were hurt, but the rebels took away firearms, cash, and other equipment – happened on the Sunday, June 18, the day the government reciprocated the NPA's declaration to stop all offensives in Mindanao as local terrorists continue to control some parts of Marawi City.
The Palace said the timing of the NPA attack contradicts the vow of the NDF to fulfill their side of the agreement. The NDF is the negotiating arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines while the NPA is its armed component.
“Although the attack was not in Mindanao, the act was opportunistic in nature and disregards the nature of the NDF declaration,” said Abella.
Malacañang said there must be consistency between NDF actions and those of NPA rebels on the ground in order to prove they are sincere in peace talks.
“We ask the NDF to call on their armed comrades on the ground to walk the talk and to show genuine sincerity on the confidence-building measure initiated by the government and their side,” said Abella.
The cessation of hostilities between communists and government is meant to be one step towards sealing a bilateral ceasefire agreement, one of Duterte’s main conditions before talks can resume.
Duterte promised to end the decades-old communist insurgency. To this end, he temporarily released communist leaders from prison so they could participate in the peace talks.
The government and communist negotiators were about to enter into the 5th road of talks when Duterte had them canceled after the CPP ordered forces on the ground to "accelerate and intensify attacks against the government," after his proclamation of martial law in Mindanao. – Rappler.com