Duterte to communists: Do you want a truce or a fight?
LUCENA CITY, Quezon – President Rodrigo Duterte has warned the communist rebels that he would revoke the unilateral ceasefire order with the New People’s Army (NPA) if the insurgents would not stop attacking government forces.
“What is this? Are we into this truce or are we not?” Duterte said before the assembled soldiers from the Southern Luzon Command during his “talk to men” speech at the covered court at Camp Guillermo Nakar late Thursday afternoon.
The President’s tirade came after a group of NPAs attacked members of the CAFGU (Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit) Active Auxilliary or the CAA on their way back to their camp in Sitio Patil, Barangay Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte on Wednesday morning. (The CAA from the 72nd Infantry Battalion is under the operational control of the 60th Infantry Battalion.)
In an information released by Lt. Col. Angelo Guzman, assistant chief of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office based in Camp Aguinaldo, one CAA was killed while four others CAAs were wounded in the attack. He said the CAAs were already several days out of their camp on security patrol when President Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire last Monday.
The CAAs were already on their way from Sitio Kapatagan to Sitio Patil when ambushed by a group of NPAs at Sitio Kamunoan. The names of the victims are still being withheld pending notifications of their family.
Duterte gave the Communist Party of the Philippines; its armed wing, the New People’s Army; and its negotiator, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines either Thursday evening or Friday morning to explain.
“Give me answer by tonight because if tomorrow there is still none, I will revoke the ceasefire order. Balik tayo sa away. Yan ang gusto ninyo (We return to fighting. That is what you want),” Duterte said, obviously controlling his anger. “I’m demanding an explanation from the Communist Party of the Philippines. I demand an answer. Kung sino ang nagkasala they must also be put under disciplinary action otherwise wala tayong pinagusapan (Whoever did wrong, they must also be put under disciplinary action; otherwise, forget we had an agreement at all).”
“If you do not honor or you kill a single soldier or a Cafgu or a soldier of the Republic, sabi ko kalimutan na natin ito. Fight na lang (I say, let us forget this. Let’s just fight).”
In his first State of the Nation Address on Monday, Duterte announced a unilateral ceasefire with the communists effective immediately, to set an atmosphere conducive for peace talks.
The President said he was announcing a ceasefire “to immediately stop violence on the ground, restore peace in the communities and provide an enabling environment conducive to the resumption of the peace negotiations.
The next day, the AFP issued the suspension of offensive military operations against NPA rebels. The Philippine National Police also ordered all units to halt its operations against the communist guerillas.
The government and the NDFP are set to resume formal peace talks in Oslo, Norway, late next month.
CPP founder Jose Maria Sison welcomed Duterte’s ceasefire announcement. He said the NDF would issue a positive response “within the hour.”
Jorge Madlos, or “Ka Oris, the recently designated spokesperson of the NPA National Operational Command on Tuesday afternoon ordered all its units to maintain an active defense mode.
The membership of the NPA as the armed wing of the CPP, has dwindled significantly since the 1980s, but it remains capable of mounting deadly guerrilla attacks. SFM
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