Ceasefire failed to create positive atmosphere for peace talks–Solcom
LUCENA CITY –– An Army official claimed that the just-concluded holiday ceasefire between government forces and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels failed to create a conducive atmosphere for the resumption of the peace negotiations.
“No positive effect to the peace talks happened during the ceasefire,” Colonel Dennis Cana, public information officer of the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) based in Camp Nakar, said in an interview on Wednesday.
He claimed that the Maoist-inspired guerrillas just took advantage of the 16-day cessation of armed hostilities “to recruit, consolidate their waning forces and engage in extortion activities.”
Cana said communist insurgents in Southern Tagalog and Bicol
regions used the ceasefire during the Christmas season by extorting money and material things from their targets.
He said the mass extortion activities were disguised as “namamasko” or Christmas gift solicitations.
“Historically, the extortion activities of these communist terrorists intensify during the Christmas ceasefire,” Cana said.
He said the rebels’ alleged targets in “Yuletide gifts solicitations” were government project contractors, politicians, local government officials, businessmen with interest in the so-called rebel-influenced areas, illegal loggers and miners, and others.
“Once a target refused, his business interest becomes a mark for punitive actions, most often in the form of arson,” Cana said.
There was no means to immediately verify and validate the claims of the military.
But in the past, several government project contractors and
politicians in Quezon province admitted that the NPA rebels were asking them to provide cash or in-kind donations during Christmas.
Cana claimed that the truce period could have provided support to the government’s call for the NPA rebels to give up the armed struggle and surrender.
Edited by Lzb
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.