The Daily Manila Shimbun


Peace adviser says gov’t “distressed” over recent attacks allegedly by NPA

January 31, 2017

The Duterte administration is "distressed and extremely disturbed" by the recent series of attacks and harassment allegedly perpetrated by the New People's Army in different parts of the country, the top peace official said on Tuesday.

In a statement, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza wondered if the National Democratic Front, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA, has control with its people on the ground.

Two soldiers were killed in another ambush allegedly by the New People’s Army in Isabela province on Monday.

Col. Bartolome Bacarro,  commander of the 502nd Brigade, said his soldiers were on board two motorcycles while going to the regional environment and natural resources department when they were attacked by armed men at the vicinity of Brgy. Mabbayad, Echague, Isabela around 8:30 am.

Bacarro said his men were in civilian attire and armed with one pistol as they were going to ask for seedlings for a tree planting activity.

The fatalities were Corporals Gary Camaneg and Virgilio Herera. One survived, added Bacarro.

Bacarro said the incident shows rebels were not sincere with peace talks.

“It’s unfortunate that they did this. They themselves violated their declaration of unilateral ceasefire so this is just to show how untrue they are to the peace talks. But we we will still abide with our unilateral declaration of ceasefire,” he said.

Dureza noted the unilateral ceasefire declared by the government and the NDF was set in place to provide an "enabling environment" for the ongoing peace talks.

The truce also aims to secure the support of the stakeholders and the bigger public in understanding and supporting these unprecedented, although small but significant steps, for sustainable peace in the land, Dureza said.

"We do not wish to unnecessarily squander those gains that even saw President Duterte exercising strong political will to move the peace process forward. Either some in NDF leadership talking to the government are not in full control of their own forces on the ground or they are themselves undermining these efforts for sustainable peace, or pressuring government for certain concessions," he said.

Among the series of atrocities, which leftist rebels allegedly committed for the past 48 hours include the abduction of a soldier in Surigao del Norte; wounding of three members of a composite peace and development team of the military in Surigao City; burning of a passenger van in Sarangani; and attacks in a resort in Batangas and in the ongoing road rehabilitation project in Sarangani.

Dureza said Duterte would definitely walk the extra mile for peace.

"But our counterparts on the other side of the peace table must also reciprocate accordingly and do the same. The road to peace is not smooth and easy. Let us all help to successfully traverse it," he said.

The NDF has been asking the government for the release initially of some 200 political detainees. But Duterte has said there should be a joint bilateral ceasefire first before the release of more political prisoners. Celerina Monte, Robina Asido/DMS