MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana tagged the communist armed wing New People's Army (NPA) as "terrorists" a day before the 4th round of peace negotiations opens in the Netherlands.
In a statement on Saturday, April 1, Lorenzana said the NPA in the past weeks has gone "on a rampage, burning equipment and properties of companies who refuse to succumb to their extortions."
He also said the NPA has "also attacked and ambushed military and police personnel."
He said that the NPA "did these nefarious acts" after asking to resume peace talks with the government and announcing that they will implement a unilateral ceasefire.
"I, therefore, call upon all peace-loving Filipinos to resist these thugs, these terrorists who have brought nothing but misery to the Filipino people in the past 48 years. Let us resist their extortions because giving in will make them strong and perpetuate their criminal acts," Lorenzana said.
Show commitment, communists urged
In his statement on Saturday, the defense chief added, "We stand by the President's decision to resume the peace process but we likewise should call on the communists to show their commitment both in words and in deeds."
The Philippine government and the communist rebels will hold their 4th round of peace talks from April 2 to 6 in the Netherlands. (READ: Duterte wants bilateral ceasefire deal with NDF sealed in April talks)
The two parties failed to reinstate unilateral ceasefire declarations, a departure from the commitments they made in a joint statement after the backchannel talks in March.
Duterte said he wants a bilateral ceasefire arrangement where the rebels will commit to stop collecting revolutionary taxes, among others.
In relation to the peace talks, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella cited a statement from Undersecretary Nabil Tan of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.
Tan said Duterte wants "clear parameters" for the proposed ceasefire, and an assurance that communist rebels will release all their prisoners, among others. – Rappler.com