Monday, January 3, 2011

Govt prepared for possible NPA attacks after ceasefire

The government is prepared for any attack that communist rebels may launch once the holiday truce ends on midnight, a Palace spokesman said Monday.

At a press briefing, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is "fully aware" that the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), may launch attacks after the end of the 18-day ceasefire. 

"They (AFP) are prepared to defend whatever they're required to do so. It's not something we're surprised if the NPA would do so, if they would launch several attacks on several fronts," Lacierda said.

"That's something the AFP is fully aware of and are prepared to defend," he said.

The ceasefire between the government and communist rebels, which began December 16, is the longest in 10 years. It was meant to be part of confidence-building measures for the upcoming informal peace talks in Norway this month and resumption of formal negotiations next month.

The ceasefire, however, was marred by skirmishes between government forces and NPA rebels. 

The military said the insurgents violated the truce on Dec. 20 when they ambushed government militiaman Larry Bustamante while he was on the way to Guihilungan town in Negros Oriental. Bustamante got away unscathed.

The CPP, meanwhile, accused the military of breaking the truce in Occidental Mindoro when it deployed soldiers allegedly to assault a house being visited by NPA rebels. The military claimed it was just facilitating the surrender of an NPA member.

'Best peace panel'

Lacierda said the government is confident the upcoming peace talks will bear fruit despite the continuing tension because the administration has the "best peace panel" for the negotiations. 

"We've got a panel which they're (CPP) familiar with. They've got friends in the peace panel so we expect them to come to the peace panel in good faith," he said. 

A former activist lawyer and Health undersecretary, Alex Padilla is heading thegovernment panel that will negotiate with the National Democratic Front, the CPP's political arm. 

The other members are Ednar Gempasaw Dayanghirang, Pablito Sanidad Sr., Jurgette Honculada, and Maria Lourdes Tison. 

Dayanghirang is a Mandaya from Davao and an advocate of indigenous peoples' rights; Sanidad is a human rights lawyer from Baguio City; Honculada is a gender and labor rights advocate from Zamboanga; and Tison is a peace and environment advocate from Negros.

The NDF backed out of peace negotiations in August 2004 to protest the refusal of the Philippine government under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to lobby the US and the European Union (EU) to remove the CPP-NPA from the terrorist list.

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III has vowed to pursue peace talks with communist rebels, saying the government is still determined to push through with negotiations despite NPA members' recent violent encounters with military forces. — RSJ, GMANews.TV

No comments:

Post a Comment