Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana condemned on Saturday the New People’s Army’s (NPA) for its recent attacks on government troops and even private companies, tagging the communist armed group as “terrorists” who were “anti-development, anti-progress, and anti-poor.”
Lorenzana made issued the statement just a day before the government peace panel starts its fourth round of talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The talks will take place from April 2 to 6 in The Netherlands
Lorenzana said that in the past weeks, the communist rebels had been on a rampage, burning equipment and properties of companies that refused to submit to their extortion.
“They do these to companies who build roads, export produce, transport people – activities that help generate employment and wealth for Filipinos,” Lorenzana said..
“They have also attacked and ambushed military and police personnel who were doing their constitutional duties and killed military personnel on home leaves,” he added.
He said that the NPA did these “nefarious acts” after asking for the resumption of peace talks and announcing that they would go on a unilateral ceasefire.
“I, therefore, call upon all peace-loving Filipinos to resist these thugs, these terrorists who have brought nothing but misery to the Filipino people in the past 48 years,” he said. “Let us resist their extortions because giving in will make them strong and perpetuate their criminal acts.”
The Department of National Defense would stand by the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to resume the peace process. But he said: “We likewise should call on the communists to show their commitment in both words and in deeds.”
Both the Philippine government and the communist rebels have announced they would not be declaring a unilateral ceasefire before the resumption of talks, contrary to CPP’s earlier pronouncement that it would revive its canceled truce before the end of March.
However, the chief government negotiator, Silvestre Belllo III, said on Friday that a signed bilateral ceasefire agreement would be a priority during the talks.
Duterte said that he would want the NPA to free captives and to stop collecting revolutionary tax, among others.
Lorenzana said that the DND shared the vision of Duterte of “building a nation worthy of Filipinos and Filipinos worthy of a nation.”
“The path to real, lasting peace is indeed not without its struggles,” Lorenzana said, “Thus it is important that we stay committed to this goal, and to let our actions reflect our intentions.”