CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) called on the New People’s Army (NPA) to show their sincerity and worthiness to resume peace negotiations by putting a stop to their terroristic acts, AFP Public Affairs Chief Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo said Saturday, March 18.
“If the NPAs are really sincere and one with the National Democratic Front (NDF) in their intent to resume the talks with government, they should start manifesting their intention by putting a stop to their terroristic activities which continue to harm our citizens and halt development in the communities,” Colonel Arevalo said.
One week after the Government Panel and the NDF announced their intent to return to the negotiating table to talk peace, incidents of burning and harassment by the terrorist NPA continues.
Reports of arson were recorded by AFP troops over the week. In Makilala, North Cotabato, a commercial transport bus was burned by the NPAs on Monday, March 13. In the same day, a delivery van owned by Fighter Wine Company was burned by the terrorists in San Fernando, Bukidnon.
On Wednesday, March 15, a group of NPA attacked the community of Brgy. Hinimbangan, Kitcharao in Agusan Del Norte forcing 89 families to evacuate their homes. The NPAs fired upon the community where troops from the Army’s 29th Infantry Battalion were conducting development support and security operations. After three consecutive harassments by the NPA in the barangay, a total of 357 civilians were forced to leave their houses and evacuate to the gymnasium of a nearby barangay.
Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division disclosed that NPA members forced the school faculty in Hinimbangan to cancel their classes while some of the terrorist group indiscriminately fired upon the houses in the community.
“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,” Colonel Arevalo stressed.
As of this report, 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,” Colonel Arevalo disclosed.
“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,” said Colonel Arevalo.