THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has vowed to thwart any offensive by the New People’s Army (NPA) after the Commission on Appointments rejected the confirmation of Rafael Mariano, the last known Left-leaning Cabinet member of President Rodrigo Duterte, as agrarian reform secretary.
“If they (NPA) will be doing that as they have been doing in the past, we are ready to thwart any attacks against our soldiers, against our vital institutions,” Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the AFP public affairs, said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
Mariano was the third Cabinet member rejected by the CA. Before him, the commission also rejected the ad interim appointment of Judy Taguiwalo as social welfare secretary, another Left-leaning official.
Duterte appointed Mariano and Taguiwalo to the Cabinet as a concession to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) which, at that time, was in peace talks with the government.
With the collapse of the negotiations, however, the appointments of the two officials became precarious.
According to Arevalo, the NPA and even other leftist groups should take note of the fact that the decision of the CA was a “quasi-political exercise,” adding that the military has no hand in any of its decisions.
“If there are any misgivings about it, then it’s up to them (left groups) to discuss if they want and probably, they would want to conduct rallies as they used to and that is their freedom of assembly,” he said.
“They should be mature enough to consider that this is a quasi-political exercise. With that being said, that is the mandate of the Commission on Appointments we hope that they will accept this,” he added.
Arevalo also hoped that the NPA would not intensify its attacks against government troops in the countryside. DEMPSEY REYES