AFP: Talks with Reds a futile effort
The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Thursday welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement to call off peace talks with communist rebels unless they stop their attacks against security forces.
“Indeed it’s a futile effort to continue to talk peace with a group like the CPP/NPA/NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front) whose members continue to get money from people and senselessly killed our people that defend and protect the people,” AFP public affairs chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said in a press briefing.
Four members of the presidential security group were wounded in an ambush staged by the NPA in North Cotabato on Wednesday.
But on Tuesday, the President had aleady directed the peace negotiating panel “not to resume formal peace talks unless the Red agree to stop their attacks against government troops in Mindanao.”
The planned back-channel talks set in Europe this week were also called off after the incident in North Cotabato.
“It is lamentable just to create the impression that they are still relevant, they will resort to vicious atrocities just like this at a time that confidence-building measures is the course of action to save the peace talks,” Arevalo said.
He also said the communist rebels were never sincere in talking peace with the government, and was using the peace talks “to buy time and consolidate, to recruit and beef up its ranks.”
“You can just imagine if the President is onboard that vehicle, he could have been assassinated. All these are indicators of the NPA’s propensity to take advantage of crucial situations like this in order for them to perpetuate their ends,” Arevalo said.
“They have no plans of stopping extorting enormous sums of money from companies that provide livelihood,” he added.
Citing military data, Arevalo said that there 203 encounters recorded with the communist rebels since Feb. 4, when the President first suspended the talks, to present.
There were also 42 soldiers killed-in-action from encounters with communist rebels, while 192 were wounded from Feb. 4 to July 19.
“Most of these wounded have recuperated and have returned to their assignments,” Arevalo said.
On the communists’ side — 403 have been neutralized, with 91 killed, 40 arrested and 272 have surrendered. JE
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