MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday expressed support for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s decision to shelve the possible resumption of peace talks with the communist rebels who continue to attack civilians and military personnel even during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.
“It is indeed the apex of futility to continue the talks for peace with a terrorist group like the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front) whose illegally armed members continue to oppress the needy, kill their community and tribal leaders, and senselessly kill the soldiers who help the poor receive vital government support – and worse, rob the indigents of relief package at this time of Covid-19 crisis,” AFP spokesperson Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said in a press statement.
Arevalo said the AFP is rejecting accusations by the communist rebels that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is being used to perpetuate martial rule.
“The citizenry knows only too well that the AFP has been open and very supportive of all government’s efforts that seek to achieve lasting peace and promote development,” he added.
Arevalo also slammed the communist movement for committing at least 17 acts of violation of its own truce, which was belatedly declared on March 26 to April 15, much later than the March 19 to April 15 ceasefire declared by the President due to the Covid-19 crisis.
“Recent reports from the ground show at least 17 violations of the CPP-NPA’s own belatedly-declared ceasefire after ignoring (the) government’s earlier peace initiative,” he said, adding that these atrocities by the CPP-NPA only highlight their callousness to the sufferings of the Filipino people and show their desperate attempts to derail government assistance at this critical time.
Arevalo said what is more annoying is that after doing this, the communist rebels have the temerity to claim the “government’s inept, uncompassionate, and irresponsible actions in the face of the pandemic.”
“That is their classic tactic to discredit government and fuel dissent to attempt to overthrow it,” he added.
Arevalo said the CPP-NPA has never been sincere in talking peace with the government.
“Since the beginning and despite countless chances for peace that they unduly took advantage of, the terrorist CPP-NPA has no intention to genuinely pursue peace negotiations but to buy time to consolidate, recruit, and strengthen their ranks and resume their offensives,” he said.
“That is consistent with what Luis Jalandoni said, ‘We (CPP-NPA-NDF) see that peace negotiations are another form of legal struggle… in order to advance the revolutionary armed struggle,'” he added.
Arevalo noted that it is time to end the CPP-NPA’s more than 50 years of sowing havoc in the country and depriving the people of peace and development.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)