Gov’t says rebels violating own truce
The government and the military said communist rebels had been violating their own ceasefire, an indication that leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) were not in control of their forces in the field.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the public affairs office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said on Wednesday the announcement of the termination of the rebels’ unilateral ceasefire contradicted an earlier statement by Fidel Agcaoili, chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), that their truce would hold.
“This reflects the need for CPP-NPA-NDF leadership to control the actions of their people on the ground,” Arevalo said on Wednesday.
President Duterte’s peace adviser, Jesus Dureza, had expressed alarm over reports of attacks and harassment staged by NPA guerrillas against government forces.
“Either some in the National Democratic Front leadership talking to the government are not in full control of their own forces on the ground, or they are themselves undermining these efforts for sustainable peace, or pressuring government for certain concessions,” Dureza said in a statement on Tuesday.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Wednesday the rebels did not stop extorting “revolutionary taxes,” recruiting new fighters and burning buses and equipment during their ceasefire.
Arevalo said the lack of control had led to various violations of the rebels’ own ceasefire, which had led to the killing of soldiers.
In the latest incident, one soldier died after guerrillas attacked a police and army team that was responding to complaints of harassment from villagers in Barangay Lambog in Manay, Davao Oriental, just hours after the rebels announced the end of their truce, said Capt. Rhyan Batchar, spokesperson for the Army’s 10th Infantry Division.
On Monday, two Army soldiers on a “peace and development” mission were killed in an NPA ambush in Echague, Isabela province. The NPA’s Benito Tesorio Command said the attack was in retaliation for alleged military atrocities in the area. —WITH REPORTS FROM CYNTHIA D. BALANA, LEILA B. SALAVERRIA, FRINSTON LIM, KARLOS MANLUPIG, VILLAMOR VISAYA JR. AND ALLAN NAWAL
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