Palace hits NPA attacks, doubts leaders’ sincerity
Malacañang on Monday condemned the recent spate of attacks launched by communist rebels in the Visayas and Mindanao, saying these raised doubts about their leaders’ sincerity in pursuing peace talks with the government.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the attacks by fighters of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), only raised “doubts” among the people about the resumption of peace negotiations.
“The NPA attacks in Sarangani, South Cotabato, Surigao del Sur, Palawan and Masbate fuel the public’s doubt about the talks with the group,” Abella said in a statement.
He said the communist rebels recently disarmed officials involved in the counterinsurgency program in Sarangani and South Cotabato.
They then abducted a tribe leader and a Cafgu (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit) member in Surigao del Sur and ambushed a military convoy in Palawan, Abella said.
“[They] … also killed a policeman in Masbate,” he said.
“The government will undertake appropriate steps to deal decisively with these forces that seem to have lost their sense of nation-building,” he added.
Formal peace talks between the government and the CPP were supposed to resume last month, but President Rodrigo Duterte got angry after the NPA ambushed a convoy of the Presidential Security Group in Arakan, North Cotabato in July.
Mr. Duterte insisted that there should be a ceasefire first before peace talks could proceed.
On May 27, the government peace panel withdrew from the fifth round of peace talks with the rebels in the city of Noordwijk, the Netherlands, after the CPP ordered the NPA to step up attacks against security forces.
The CPP issued the order after the President declared martial law in Mindanao following the attack on Marawi City by fighters of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group, the Abu Sayyaf faction of Isnilon Hapilon and their allies.
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