MANILA–To ensure progress in the soon-to-resume peace negotiations at The Netherlands, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is hoping that the National Democratic Front (NDF) will exert tighter control over its field units this time.
AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said such control is needed to prevent rebel elements from making unprovoked attacks against civilian and military targets just like what happened last February.
During that month, the New People’s Army (NPA) made a series of attacks against military personnel and civilian businesses, killing six soldiers in the process, causing the abduction of three troopers, and causing millions of pesos in damages to properties.
This prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend the peace talks last Feb. 4 and ordered a massive retaliatory campaign against rebel forces.
“While the AFP sees that the NDF continues to push for the resumption of the peace negotiations, it is clear that they are also losing hold of their men on the ground. The NPA, with their twisted ideals are attacking innocent civilians, extorting money or burning private properties,” Arevalo stressed.
As of this posting, the NPAs have already conducted 62 terroristic activities since the start of the year.
These include abduction, burning or arson, extortion, ambush and harassment against both civilians and military members.
“On our part, we will continue to conduct combat operations against the terrorist NPAs until we receive an official communication from the Office of the President suspending the all-out-war. Our surgical, deliberate, and intelligence-driven operations have so far resulted to the neutralization of 129 NPAs, of which 23 were killed, 19 were arrested and 87 surrendered,” the AFP public affairs office chief stressed.
“At present, the operations against the NPA already yielded 83 firearms from the NPA — 22 were surrendered while 61 were recovered during operations. The casualties on our side are now at 53, of which 14 were killed in action, 36 were wounded, and three were abducted,” he added.