From Malaya (Jun 18): AFP to intensify campaign vs Reds
THE Armed Forces yesterday said it would continue its “focused” combat operations against the New People’s Army following the communist movement’s declaration it would wait for the next administration before returning to the negotiating table.
“They left the negotiating table so we will continue our focused military operations against them...We are going after the armed elements of the New People’s Army,” said Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, chief of the AFP public affairs office.
Last week, the chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, Luis Jalandoni, was quoted as saying prospects for peace negotiations under the Aquino administration have dimmed “because of the rhetoric of the Philippine government stating that they are ending the peace negotiations and putting the blame on the NDFP.”
The NDFP, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, made a similar declaration in February 2010, or months before the Aquino government assumed power. It said it was abandoning the idea of forging peace with the “lameduck regime” of the Arroyo administration.
The Armed Forces has been trying to address the insurgency problem for over 40 years, in the absence of a long-term ceasefire between the two sides. Military estimates placed the NPA strength at over 4,000 men.
The military establishment has not declared a full-scale offensive against the NPA because of the peace negotiations.
Zagala said with or without Jalandoni’s statement, the military would continue operations against the NPA, “as long as they are there, conducting offensive actions against the government and the people.”
“We cannot allow them to continue terrorizing the countryside. Our focus is to provide peace and stability in areas when needed. If they (rebels) are there, there is no peace and stability. If there is peace and stability, there is no economic growth and development,” he said.