Photo by Keith Bagongco
MANILA, Philippines – The communist New People's Army (NPA) said on Saturday, October 8, that while the ceasefire between rebels and the military has been holding, soldiers continue to conduct “hostile operations” in the countryside.
“In the interest of ensuring the progress of peace negotiations, the NPA calls on GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) President [Rodrigo] Duterte to tame the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” NPA spokesperson Ka Oris said in an emailed statement that marked the 100th day of the Duterte presidency.
The statement of Ka Oris – the nom de guerre of NPA's top leader in Mindanao, Jorge Madlos – was also timed with the 50th day of the rebels’ ceasefire declaration.
The guerrillas' political arm, the National Democratic Front, is in talks with the Duterte administration to end the communist insurgency, which has dragged for more than 3 decades. The two sides began their 2nd round of talks in Oslo, Norway, on October 6.
All guerrilla units are abiding by the ceasefire, Ka Oris said. But he cited reports of “continuing AFP operations” in key areas in Northern Luzon and Southern Mindanao.
“Even the drug campaign is being used by the AFP to conduct anti-NPA operations,” Ka Oris added.
He warned that "not a few NPA units are having difficulty holding back offensives" amid these operations.
The President should end all military-led counter-insurgency operations, including “so-called ‘peace and development operations,’ ‘visitations, ‘medical missions'," Ka Oris added.
The current indefinite ceasefire is unprecedented. This has allowed the military to deploy its troops to Western Mindanao, particularly in Sulu, to run after the Abu Sayyaf Group. More than 8,000 troops are now in Sulu.
The talks in Oslo also resumed on a high note this week when the NDF assigned former CPP-NPA chief Benito Tiamzon as one of its panel members. The reshuffle also made Fidel Agcaoili the new head of the rebel negotiating panel, replacing Luis Jalandoni. – Rappler.com