AFP to NPA: Surrender or die

A soldier offers a prayer to Maria Auxiliadora de los Cristianos de Marawi (Mary Help of Christians of Marawi) before the start of the Grand Marian Procession in Intramuros, Manila yesterday. The image is a replica of the one destroyed by members of the IS-inspired Maute group at the Cathedral of Maria Auxiliadora during the siege of Marawi City. Miguel De Guzman

AFP to NPA: Surrender or die

Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) - December 3, 2017 - 4:00pm

No Christmas truce – AFP

MANILA, Philippines — With communist rebels intensifying their attacks on government forces, the military yesterday called anew on the New People’s Army (NPA) to “surrender or suffer the same fate as their cohorts killed in the latest military operations.”

“While we are hopeful that more NPAs will surrender in the coming days, our troops on the ground will continue with our relentless operations against them who remain active in their violent and destructive criminal activities against our people in the communities,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs Office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said in a statement.

Arevalo said the military is gaining the upper hand with a total of 264 rebels either killed or apprehended by government forces from February to November.

A total of 573 rebels surrendered after President Duterte terminated the peace talks with the communists under Proclamation 360.

Arevalo said the AFP will continue to open its doors for the rebels to surrender amid the intensified military offensive.

He said the AFP will likely not observe a holiday truce with the rebels.

Arevalo said Proclamation 360 effectively ruled out a ceasefire with the communist rebels since the peace talks had been cancelled.

Instead of a truce, Arevalo said the military will continue a “relentless conduct of operation” against the communist rebels, who are expected to also intensify their offensive.

The NPA has stepped up its offensive over the weekend with attacks in Misamis Oriental, Camarines Norte and Cagayan.

The rebels attacked the police station of Binuangan in Misamis Oriental yesterday wounding four police officers.

Baggao, Cagayan town Councilor Angelo Luis was shot dead by NPA rebels on Saturday while PO2 Richard Abad was killed and six of his colleagues were wounded in an ambush in Labo, Camarines Norte.

Elsewhere, gun battles between government troops and communist rebels broke out in Sallapadan town in Abra since early Saturday.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or injuries.

The NPA suffered a setback after 14 rebels were killed in a firefight with government forces in Batangas.

The AFP said the military’s latest operational success came days after Duterte signed Proclamation 360 terminating the peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

“Prior to the President’s proclamation, we have been actively conducting counterinsurgency operations against the NPA since the peace negotiations broke down in February 4,” Arevalo said.

Duterte has cancelled all future peace talks with the communist rebels, blaming the insurgents for deadly attacks against soldiers and police while the NDF, the umbrella organization representing the CPP-NPA, is holding peace negotiations with the government.

Duterte has also ordered security forces to shoot communist rebels bearing firearms as he revealed an executive order is being prepared to declare the CPP-NPA-NDF as a terrorist group.

Duterte also threatened to tag all “legal fronts” of the CPP-NPA-NDF as criminals and have them arrested for conspiracy.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque justified Duterte’s order to shoot down any armed rebel.

“There is nothing wrong with what the President said if there is existing hostility which is called the international humanitarian law. That’s an ancient legal system,” Roque said.

Roque said what the President means to shoot and kill are valid military targets.

Roque said the communists are already dwindling and getting out of tune.

He said the communists have to move on considering they have been fighting the government for almost 50 years with no gain in sight. –Roel Pareño, Artemio Dumlao, Ben Serrano

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