DND SEC. NPA attacks on Lapanday to have impact on peace talks

DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana yesterday said that the recent attacks by the New People’s Army (NPA) may have a negative impact on the peace negotiations with the communist rebel group.

Lorenzana told reporters yesterday at the sidelines of Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) meeting held in SMX convention center that the government condemns the series of attacks of the NPA in the city.

“Instead of doing some confidence-building (measures) because we are currently talking peace, they are committing atrocities,” he said. “They just want to extort.”

Lorenzana said that personally, he no longer is interested in pursuing a peace negotation with the CPP-NPA-NDF. However, he quickly added that being loyal soldiers of the Duterte administration, they have to implement the policy of the President.

“Our peace panel is continuing the talks,” he said.

On the part of the Department of National Defense, Lorenzana said they already submitted the requirements for the joint ceasefire agreement. Some of the demands include for the NPA to stop extortion, abduction, harassment and burning incidents.

Meanwhile, in a separate interview, Gen. Eduardo Año, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said they already filed a formal complaint against the New People’s Army in connection to the simultaneous attacks in Davao City last week.

He said they have coursed their complaint thru the government’s peace panel so that it could be included in the next round of talks between the government and the National Democratic Front.

“What they did is actually contrary to what they are saying,” the officer said. “Supposedly, we should have confidence-building measures … This is what we called pure banditry, pure extortion.”

“With the series of NPA atrocities, the prevalent situation now is ‘talk and fight,’” he said. “Such scenario does not imperil the peace negotiations however as this usually happens in many peace talks.”

But Año said the National Democratic Front of the Philippines should also show goodwill and initiative by reining in its communist guerillas on the ground.

Additional troop’s deployment

The military already deployed additional troops to the region. “Through the cooperation with the local government and businessmen we will activate additional SCAAs (militias) and later on, we will return the troops that we sent to Sulu here (in Region XI),” he added.

Lorenzana and Año led other top officials in the joint Regional Peace and Order Council and Regional Development Council XI held at the SMX Convention Center yesterday. The event was also attended by Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

In a chance interview outside the venue, the mayor said the presence of Lorenzana and AFP chief just showed the gravity of the Lapanday attack, and its security impacts to the region.

Mayor Carpio said she expects an improved security plan for the region after yesterday’s meeting.

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