Military prepares as talks end

THE ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is gearing up against the anticipated attacks as the government peace panel already announced the cancellation of the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF).

Nevertheless, AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero, told TIMES yesterday that they are behind their Commander-in-Chief 100% when President Duterte has revealed that his administration is mulling to declare the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the CPP-NDF, as a terrorist group.

“We support the President’s decision to cancel talks with (CPP-NDF) and will continue to safeguard the communities against the attacks by the NPAs,” Guerrero said. “We ask the public for their continued support to the AFP’s peace and development efforts.”

In a separate interview, Maj. Gen. Noel Clement, the commander of 10th Infantry Division, said the AFP is giving the NPA all the opportunities to settle peacefully the armed conflict, but they have taken advantage by bolstering their strength and harassing communities.

“If we are to return to the negotiating table, they have to show sincerity,” Clement added.

Speaking also in yesterday’s AFP-PNP press conference held at Royal Mandaya hotel, Capt. Jerry Lamosao, the spokesperson of 10th Infantry Division, said the military is always prepared, with or without the declaration of all-out war against the NPAs.

“We are continuously hunting down the NPAs, especially those who are conducting atrocities in the hinterlands and some areas,” Lamosao said.

“Actually our forces have been deployed not just for combat operations but also for community support program (CSP), wherein our soldiers are in barangays facilitating the government projects and programs like education, infrastructures, and agriculture,” he added.

Meanwhile, the AFP is still assessing whether to declare the traditional holiday truce this year.

“We will still assess the security situation and make the necessary recommendation by that time,” Guerrero said.

For now, the military is still intensifying its security operations following series of attacks conducted by the NPA in various places in Mindanao.

This, as the Davao City Local Peace Committee (DC-PEACE) is calling for a truce in time for the yuletide celebration thru a cessation of hostilities with communist rebels.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said the organization asked her to talk with the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) for a possible declaration of SOMO.

Both the AFP and PNP remained on high alert status as communist rebels reportedly started conducting a series of attacks ahead of CPP’s founding anniversary on Dec. 26.

Guerrero said they are anticipating intensifying attacks and atrocities by the NPA as December arrives.

“We have already standing orders to monitor their movement and all units will be on full alert status,” Guerrero said.

Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, police regional director in Davao, said they already reminded all police officers to be extra vigilant. “We all know that during the anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines, they conduct tactical offensives and attacks against the government forces and installations,” Gaerlan said.

Communist rebels recently staged a series of attacks in Davao and Caraga regions.

Last Nov. 13, a police officer assigned at the Baguio Police Precinct of Davao City Police Office (DCPO) was killed by NPA hitmen while letting them hitch on his motorcycle in Sitio Luman, Barangay New Valencia, Tugbok district.

On that day, NPA rebels abducted two police officers at an outpost along the national highway in Barangay Bad-as, Placer, Surigao del Norte.

The next day, rebels ambushed a mobile patrol, resulting in the death of a four-month-old baby in Talakag, Bukidnon.

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