AMID threats of more attacks in 2014 by the New People’s Army (NPA), Malacañang on Thursday said the government will continue to extend its hand of friendship to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and pursue peaceful talks.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that while the Armed Forces of the Philippines stands guard against future attacks by the NPA, the government will “find a peaceful solution to the conflict.”
“Of course our security forces and law enforcement agencies will respond to those threats because that is the duty of the armed forces to protect the people and keep the communities safe,” Coloma said.
He stressed that the government, despite the CPP’s seeming lack of interest in pursuing the peace talks, has not lost its determination to overcome the challenges related to the negotiations which had previously bogged down due to irreconcilable differences.
“We don’t lose hope . . . we will endeavor to pursue peace not only in Mindanao but in other fronts as well, including communication or negotiation with the CPP-NPA-NDF [National Democratic Front],” Coloma pointed out.
Coloma said the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process had made it clear that leaving the negotiation table will not be an option.
On New Year’s Eve, the CPP ordered the NPA to intensify attacks against government troops in a bid to seize more weapons for its “increasing” number of fighters.
“Under the direction of the CPP, the NPA will undertake more frequent tactical offensives in order to annihilate weak enemy units and seize more weapons… every NPA command must gun for a record increase in the number of weapons seized from the reactionary military, paramilitary and police forces,” a CPP statement dated December 31 said.
On December 26, during the CPP’s 45th anniversary, the party said it would increase the number of guerilla fighters to 25,000.
Government estimates placed the strength of the NPA at only around 4,000.
On claims by the NPA that the government has failed miserably to deliver its promise of economic growth, which is why more mass actions can be expected this year, the Palace official countered that “the government remains focused and committed to attaining the goal of inclusive growth by creating more employment and extending social protection to the most needy.”
“We acknowledge that there are those who differ with us in the way they view the economy. As the President said in his New Year’s message—and I quote—‘Our minds remain open and we are always ready to listen to those with meaningful ideas and proposals that can help to expand and make permanent our reforms,’” Coloma said.