Thursday, February 2, 2017

Mindanao on heightened alert due to NPA threats

From the Mindanao Examiner (Feb 2): Mindanao on heightened alert due to NPA threats

Philippine military officials alerted troops on Thursday for possible attacks by communist rebels who threatened to wage war after abruptly ending a unilateral ceasefire while peace talks are going on.

Army Major Ezra Balagtey, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, said the order was handed down by General Rey Leonardo Guerrero who feared rebel attacks are imminent. 

Guerrero, the regional military commander, also ordered soldiers to protect communities and army posts against New People’s Army rebels. The order put the entire eastern region of Mindanao on “active defense posture,” Balagtey said. 

“Alert troops for possible attacks. Protect the communities from criminal acts of extortion, burning of equipment, abductions, liquidations and other forms of atrocities,” Balagtey quoted the general as saying. 

“General Guerrero emphasized to the troops to always protect the communities, including all detachments and camps against enemy attacks. All units under Eastern Mindanao Command are now on active defense posture,” Balagtey said. 

The order came out a day after the rebels terminated the ceasefire after accusing President Rodrigo Duterte of reneging on his promise free hundreds of political prisoners languishing in jails across the country.

Jorge Madlos, a rebel spokesman, said rebel forces were ordered to resume offensives against police and military, including pro-government militias and death squads, as well as drug traffickers and warlords.

“Subsequent to the expiration of our unilateral ceasefire, all territorial and unit commands of the NPA are hereby ordered to take full initiative in planning, coordinating and carrying out military campaigns and tactical offensives against the reactionary Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the various paramilitary units and death squads of the Duterte government, drug traffickers and operators of the drug trade and large-scale gambling, private armies and private armed groups of warlords, local tyrants as well as spies,” Madlos said.

He said the NPA ceasefire, which began in August 28 last year, had been extended for over 150 days hoping it would hasten the release of the political prisoners, but Duterte had repeatedly failed to free at least 200 detainees as he promised before the resumption of the stalled peace talks with the government.

Duterte said he would only free the political prisoners if the rebels agree on a permanent ceasefire.

“The Duterte regime failed to fulfill such obligation even though the Communist Party of the Philippines obliged it by extending the ceasefire declaration to more than 150 days. The Duterte government has treacherously taken advantage of the unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire to encroach on the territory of the people’s democratic government. Across 164 municipalities and 43 provinces, the Armed Forces of the Philippines have occupied at least 500 barrios which are within the authority of the revolutionary government,” Madlos said. 

The NPA has been fighting for decades now for the establishment of a Maoist state in the country.

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