MANILA–For the New People’s Army (NPA) insurgents, the peace talks better be productive and effective this time.
Otherwise, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be constrained to fulfill its mandate of protecting all communities nationwide against armed threats.
“For many years, the AFP has shown that it has been and will always be supportive of all peace. We are hopeful that the peace talks will be successful this time,” said AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo in a message to the Philippine News Agency Monday.
“Because if not, the AFP will be constrained and will not hesitate to take on the task of defending the communities,” he added.
The military issued statement when asked to comment on the announcement that the Government of the Philippines and National Democratic Front (NDF) negotiating panels have agreed to resume peace negotiations in The Netherlands.
Informal talks between the government and the NDF were held in Utrecht on March 10 and 11.
The meeting was hosted by third party and facilitator Royal Norwegian Government led by Elizabeth Stattum.
Arevalo stressed the AFP has proven this capability when it succeeded in neutralizing 120 NPA insurgents and capturing more than 60 firearms starting Feb. 4 when President Rodrigo Duterte suspended peace negotiations in wake of the series of unprovoked rebel attacks which killed six soldiers and caused the abduction of three others early that month.
“This we hope the NPA should have realized by now. The 120 members of the NPA who were neutralized and more than 60 firearms divested from them could attest to that resolve of the AFP,” he added.
Arevalo also stressed the AFP will ensure that all Filipinos and the companies that provide them livelihood will be secured from fear and harassment.
And until the military receives official communication from the Office of the President ordering the suspension-of-military-offensives (SOMO) against the NPAs, combat operations against the insurgents will continue.