The Daily Manila Shimbun


All-out war vs NPA declared, gov’t cancels rebels’ safe conduct pass

February 7, 2017

The Duterte administration has declared all-out war against the New People's Army, the combatants of the communist insurgency group.

This as the government sent a letter to the National Democratic Front, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA, formally cancelling the safe conduct pass for the leftist rebels.

This means, the communist leaders who are temporarily released for the peace process could be arrested.

"Following the President's announcement of the cancellation of the peace talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF and per his instructions, the Government is hereby serving this notice of the termination of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarnatees (Jasig). Please be guided accordingly," said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza in a letter dated February 7 to Jose Maria Sison, NDF chief political consultant, and Fidel Agcaoili, NDF panel chairperson.

In a press briefing in Malacanang, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana assured that despite the all-out war, only the "armed component" of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA-National Democratic Front would be the target.

"We won't target the peaceful loving supporters, such as those engaged in's only the armed component that we are going after because they are the ones who can go around and intimidate people, those who have arms," Lorenzana said.

The declaration of all-out war came after the peace talks between the government and the NDF, the political wing of the CPP-NPA, bogged down and President Rodrigo Duterte tagged the leftist rebels as a "terrorist group."

"Yes, it is an all-out war because they are considered by the President already as terrorists. We also consider them as terrorists," he said as he compared the Maoist group to the local terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group.

"The Abu Sayyaf kidnap people and then they get money. The NPA will threaten those businessmen and also get money. There's no difference at all. They are there to terrorize people, to giving them money, that's extortion. So we will hunt them and may be stop them from doing what they are doing," he explained.

Lorenzana admitted the strength of the NPA has grown to about 5,000 from previous 4,000.

"When we had the ceasefire, they have the surge in the recruitment. That's what we heard from our people on the ground," he said.

He said the government received reports from the tribal leaders specifically in Davao Oriental informing the authorities that the NPA gathered the people in the villages "in the guise of talking about the peace process."

He said the number of NPA rebels increased because of the attacks they launched where they disarmed people, such as foresters in Batangas.

Lorenzana said the Armed Forces of the Philippines has enough soldiers to go after the rebels, who remain to be a "threat" to national security.

But while there is an all-out war against the NPA combatants, Lorenzana said the military continues to support efforts to look for peace.

He also denied that the military was out to sabotage the peace process.

"We want peace. We do not want to sabotage (the peace process). We support the peace process that was initiated by the president," he stressed.

The peace process, which only resumed in August last year under the Duterte administration after it was stalled in February 2011, was scrapped by the President after the rebels launched ambuscades that led to the death of at least six soldiers despite the ongoing respective ceasefires by the government and the leftist rebel group.

Duterte also cancelled the truce after the NDF declared it was terminating its own truce effective February 10.

Duterte had said he did not see achieving peace anymore under this generation.

He had ordered the arrest of 21 NDF consultants, such as Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, who are covered by Jasig and temporarily out from jail due to the peace process. Celerina Monte/DMS