MANILA — Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration to end peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday announced that it will not resort to an ‘all-out’ war against the rebels.
“Hindi tayo nag-uusap ng anumang all-out-war dito. Ang sinasabi po natin dito ay ang pagwawakas ng usapang pangkapayapaan na nais sana ay nagpatuloy kasi gusto namin magbalik loob ang iba natin mga kapatid” (We’re not talking about any all-out-war here. What we are saying here is the termination of the peace talks that we had hoped continued, because we want to bring our brothers back), AFP spokesperson Major Gen. Restituto Padilla said.
However, he clarified that the AFP will still fulfill its mandate of protecting the country’s sovereignty against all forms of threats especially in the rural communities, which is presently ‘threatened’ by the rebel bands.
“We will fulfill that mandate,” Padilla said.
Despite the cancellation of peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF in the national level, Padilla is hopeful that localized peace talks with the rebels will bear fruit.
He said that these negotiations are being pushed by local government units to give NPA rebels a chance to reunite with their families and live peaceful and productive lives again.
Padilla added that the results of local peace talks remain “encouraging,” as 391 members of the NPA and 66 of their supporters have already surrendered to authorities.
Peace negotiations with the communist rebels were ordered terminated in Duterte’s Proclamation 360, which was signed last November 23.
The order was issued following the series of atrocities and attacks committed by the NPA, the CPP’s armed wing, in various parts of the country.