MALACAÑANG on Friday warned the public that communist rebels were planning to attack government projects and infrastructure in Mindanao, signaling a deterioration in peace talks.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), which had rejected President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law declaration over Mindanao following the terrorist attack in Marawi City, on Friday issued a critical assessment of the Chief Executive’s first year in office.
During the “Mindanao Hour” news briefing in Davao City, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the government had received information that New People’s Army (NPA) rebels were planning to carry out attacks.
“We also wish to forewarn the public of reported planned attacks of the NPA on people-oriented programs and infrastructure projects,” Abella told reporters.
“And we request the citizenry of Mindanao and everyone else in the country to be on the alert and on the lookout,” he added.
The Palace official advised the public to immediately report suspicious-looking persons and unusual activities to authorities.
“We should be vigilant and we should be careful about our surroundings. Let us listen to the directives of local authorities,” he said.
The government suspended the fifth round of negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF), the CPP’s political arm, following the martial law declaration. The CPP had directed its armed wing, the NPA, to intensify offensives against state forces implementing martial law in Mindanao.
The NDF later asked the NPA to refrain from attacking government forces in Mindanao so the latter could focus on clearing Marawi City of Maute terrorists.
The government reciprocated, welcoming the NDF move as a positive development for the peace talks.
But hours later, about 50 NPA members raided a police station in Maasin, Iloilo and took away firearms, a laptop, a base radio, cash and jewelry.
While the attack did not happen in Mindanao, the government labeled it as “opportunistic.”
Army troops and NPA rebels have also figured in a series of clashes in the Davao region in the past weeks.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed that rebels fired upon members of the 67th Infantry Battalion who were conducting patrols in Cateel, Davao Oriental last June 17. The attack led to an hour-long gun battle that left three rebels dead.
Another clash happened on the same day between the 66th Infantry Battalion and NPA guerillas in Pantukan, Compostela Valley. Two rebels were killed and two soldiers were wounded during the firefight.
Duterte’s ‘3 wars’
The CPP hit Duterte as he marked his first year in office, accusing the President of failing to live up to his promise of delivering genuine change in society.
It lashed out at Duterte for using “strongman tactics” and for causing “widespread death and destruction,” citing three “wars”: a “war against drugs” (Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Double Barrel); an “all-out war of suppression (Oplan Kapayapaan) against the people’s national democratic cause;” and a “war against the Moros marked by the AFP siege and destruction of Marawi City (under the state of martial law in Mindanao).”
“The crisis of the ruling system continues to worsen in the first year under the Duterte regime as it fails to fulfill its promises of change. It has unleashed wars of death and destruction as it adopts ironfisted tactics and fascist methods to secure its rule and serve the interests of the ruling exploitative classes and foreign big capitalists,” it said in a statement.
“Amid the ever-worsening socio-economic crisis in the Philippines and the protracted depression of the international capitalist system, the people are left with no choice but to launch ever more vigorous armed and unarmed struggles and rely on their own efforts to advance their national and democratic cause,” it added.
With JAIME R. PILAPIL