PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration that the New People’s Army (NPA) is a terrorist group is being supported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), its spokesman said.
“We totally agree with the Commander in Chief in calling the NPA [as]terrorists] because it is clearly reflected in the numerous criminal, lawless, terrorist acts they have been committing against defenseless and innocent civilians,” Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said in a statement on Sunday.
On Saturday, Duterte said he would issue a proclamation calling the NPA a “terrorist” group as he reiterated that he did not want to pursue peace talks with the the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its political arm, the National Democratic Front (NDF). The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP.
In July, the President called off peace talks with the communists following a string of attacks by the NPA against state forces in North Cotabato and Palawan.
Padilla said the government “has done its part” when it resumed talks with the NDF.
“What we are asking from them is their commitment to cease and desist from the attacks but they did not and went into a period of peace relatively from August 2016 to February 2017,” he said in an interview with reporters.
“They (the Left) were the ones who violated (the truce) and they were the ones who suspended the peace talks. So, we were prompted. What do they really want? We should be the ones asking what they really want,” Padilla said.
On Duterte’s “terrorist” tag on the NPA, Padilla said it would be more proper if this would be written but added that the President’s announcement was “still a policy pronouncement.”
A senior military official, who requested anonymity, told reporters that Duterte’s decision was the right thing to do.
“This was because of the extortion activities they (the NPA rebels) have been doing. What do you call that then?
Their burning of materials, what would you call that? That’s terrorism and of course, it was the Americans who first declared [that the NPA are terrorists],” the official said.
The official also said that the NPA would lose support if it would be branded as a terrorist group.
“They kept on saying [free]political detainees. It’s not political, it’s terrorism, that’s the clamor there [because]no ideology was involved. Essentially, that’s terrorism already,” he said.
Another source who also asked not to be identified said that the US had declared the NPA a terrorist organization and such an action by a foreign country would “pave the way for blocking” financial support the NPA may be getting from its sources.
“If that is formalized, then we can do more than what they are doing now to block their support, that is among others,” the source said.