Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Military: No order to stop offensives vs NPA

From Malaya Business Insight (Jun 20): Military: No order to stop offensives vs NPA

THE Armed Forces yesterday said it has yet to get an order from higher authorities   to stop offensive operations against the communist New People’s Army in any part of the country.

On Sunday, government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello said the government is suspending offensive operations against the NPA in response to an earlier statement of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili has said the NDFP has recommended to the Communist Party of the Philippines that it order the communist group’s armed wing, the NPA, to refrain from attacking government forces in Mindanao so soldiers can focus on the campaign against the Maute Group and other terrorist groups.

The CPP has not issued any statement in response to Agcaoili’s statement.

“There is still no such order. Our offensives against the NPA are still continuing,” said Arevalo in a phone interview.

“Insofar as we are concerned, we have not received any formal orders for a cessation of military operation against the NPA,” he added.

Earlier yesterday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said notwithstanding Bello’s statement, the AFP “will continue to fulfill its mandate and conduct support to law enforcement operations all over the Philippines.”

“Recent events have shown that the upper echelons of the communist movement do not have actual control of NPA units on the ground, which continue to commit atrocities even while their comrades talk peace with the government,” said Lorenzana.

Lorenzana cited the NPA raid of the Maasin town police station in Iloilo last Sunday.

“Thus, any member of the NPA who continues to commit terroristic acts such as extortion, burning of property, kidnapping, roaming around with firearms to intimidate people, and attacks on government forces will be pursued, apprehended, and brought to justice,” said Lorenzana.

Presidential adviser on the peace process Jesus Dureza said the planned suspension of offensives will be limited to Mindanao, which means government troops can go after and even take decisive and immediate actions against the NPA if it attacks.

Dureza also said he was disheartened by the NPA attack in Iloilo, which he said would have a negative impact on the mutual commitment of government and communist peace panels to provide an enabling environment conducive to the continuation of peace negotiations.

“The ‘impact’ is not just on the peace negotiations, it illustrates the tragedy of the insurgency. Hopefully, the attack is just part of the birth pains of the agreement to stop offensive military actions, even if it covers only Mindanao as of now. It is an argument for a nation-wide ceasefire,” he added.

In Quezon Sunday night, NPA rebels attacked a Globe cell site and injured two soldiers pursuing them in Catanauan town.

Lt. Xy-zon Meneses, spokesman of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, said about 10 rebels wearing “Army pattern camouflage uniform” swooped down at the Globe cell site in Barangay Tuhian at around 8 p.m. and burned two generator sets.

Meneses said the Globe cell site remained functioning because there was a third generator set.

The military said they are eyeing extortion as the motive in the attack.

Troops from the Army’s 85th Infantry Battalion were deployed to pursue the perpetrators after receiving information about the rebel atrocity.

However, Meneses said, the rebels waylaid the soldiers in Barangay Ajos, also in Catanauan town, while approaching the Globe cell site at around 8:30 p.m. A brief firefight followed.

Meneses said the rebels detonated an improvised explosive device on the soldiers’ truck, wounding two Army troopers. The injured soldiers were brought to a hospital for shrapnel wounds and are now in stable condition.

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