AFP: CPP’s anniversary ‘miserable’
The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Thursday described as “miserable” the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) commemoration of its 50th founding anniversary.
Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., AFP chief of staff, said a number of CPP-New People’s Army (NPA) fighters surrendered on Dec. 26 and as several attempts by the communist rebels for a “grandiose” celebration were foiled.
Citing a description by a former CPP official of Wednesday’s “celebration,” Col. Noel Detoyato, AFP public affairs office chief, said the event was “downgraded” and the rebels were “not able to sustain big assemblies with their allies and organized masses attending the event.”
“The CPP-NPA-NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) was forced to make small internal gatherings and the pomposity of their braggadocio type of holding their anniversary events were effectively reduced to [an] internal affair,” Detoyato said.
19 NPA fighters surrender
On Wednesday, Madrigal, said 19 regular NPA fighters surrendered at Barangay Ilang-Ilang in Loreto town, Agusan del Sur, to the Army’s 4th Infantry Division on the eve of the CPP’s founding anniversary.
The surrenderers, who include NPA commanding officers, secretary, squad leaders, medics and active members, also yielded high-powered firearms, pistols and subversive documents.
Meanwhile, the Army’s 10th infantry division based in Compostela Valley maintained that it prevented the NPA from committing atrocities to mark the CPP’s 50th anniversary.
The military claimed that based on verified intelligence information, the NPA planned to recruit and plant improvised explosive devices on roadsides as part of the anniversary celebration.
To prevent the NPA from carrying out its plan, troops from the 10th Infantry Division on Wednesday morning engaged communist rebels in a firefight on Road 55, Sitio Tinago, Barangay Mt. Diwata, in Monkayo town.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, a government peace negotiator, defended President Duterte’s constant directive to crush the communist rebels as “normal,” as the country was in a state of armed conflict.
“If I were the President, I would do everything to crush the rebellion. That’s normal. Until there is no peace agreement, peace settlement, then we continue to fight the rebels. At the very least, if not crush them, to decimate them,” Bello told a press briefing in Malacañang on Thursday.
Bello made the remarks when asked to comment on the President’s directive to the military to destroy the NPA, amid the government’s refusal to declare a holiday ceasefire.
He said Mr. Duterte’s directive does not only mean to kill or to make them surrender, but to convince them to rejoin society.
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