President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent overtures to the communist New People’s Army (NPA) such as offering homes and livelihood to every rebel who reforms, showed that he was “sincere” in bringing lasting peace to the country, according to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Lorenzana on Friday said the NPA should stop its illegal activities and “return to the fold of the law.”
“We reiterate our call for the NPA to stop all their illegal activities, return to the fold of the law and be part of the real change that the President has spearheaded for the betterment of our country and the lives of our people,” the Defense chief added in a statement.
Upon his arrival in Davao City from his working visit to Japan, Duterte asked the NPA rebels to surrender and lay down their firearms, saying there are jobs waiting for them.
According to Lorenzana, the latest call of the President “only shows” that he is giving the NPA–the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)—”every chance” in achieving a peaceful resolution to the long-standing armed conflict between government forces and the communist guerrillas.
“He has offered homes and livelihood to every NPA fighter [who]returns to the fold of the law. The President has wholeheartedly gave the chance to the NPA [rebels]to change and simply live their lives. His offer to accommodate members of the communist movement shows his sincerity,” he said.
Lorenzana added that a “number” of NPA members had accepted the offer of the government to help them.
“We are delighted to note that a number of NPA [rebels]have accepted the offer and are now restarting to live normal lives. There were a lot [of NPA members]who initiated to return to the government,” he said.
“The Department of National Defense fully supports the peace and security agenda of the President,” Lorenzana added.
The President aborted peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines over continuing attacks of the NPA on government troops and personnel, including a convoy of the Presidential Security Group in Arakan, North Cotabato, in July.
The NDFP is an umbrella group that counts the NPA and the CPP as members.