DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana called the New People’s Army (NPA) “communist terrorists,” a day before of the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF).
Lorenzana, in a statement, reminded the public that the 4,000-strong NPA had been involved in rampage and the burning of private equipment and properties.
“They do these to companies who build roads, export produce, transport people–activities that help generate employment and wealth for Filipinos,” he said.
Peace negotiations between the government and the NDF, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, are set to start today.
The Department of National Defense chief noted that NPA rebels had attacked and ambushed military and police personnel “on home leaves.”
“They did these nefarious acts after they have asked for the resumption of peace talks and after they have announced that they will go on a unilateral ceasefire,” the Defense chief said.
“They are anti-development, anti-progress and anti-poor,” he added.
Lorenzana called upon “all peace-loving Filipinos to resist these thugs, these terrorists who have brought nothing but misery to the Filipino people in the past 48 years.”
“Let us resist their extortions because giving in will make them strong and perpetuate their criminal acts,” he added.
Lorenzana however called on the communists to “show their commitment both in words and in deeds.”
“We stand by the President’s decision to resume the peace process but we likewise should call on the communists to show their commitment both in words and in deeds,” he said.
On Friday, the head of the government peace panel, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd, said in a news conference in Malacañang that the new round of peace talks in the Netherlands from April 2 to 6 would focus on socioeconomic reforms.
It will be the fourth round of talks between the NDF and Manila, which have been on and off for 30 years but were restarted by President Rodrigo Duterte after he took office last June.
The government has billed a permanent ceasefire as its primary goal, though a week of negotiations on the outskirts of Rome in January ended without such a deal.
Bello said Friday he expected the week’s talks to be “very difficult and exacting,” with no guarantees for a breakthrough.