MALACAÑANG on Monday tagged the New People’s Army (NPA) as opportunists after they ransacked a police station in Iloilo over the weekend even though peace negotiators on both sides said they would refrain from attacking each other as a confidence-building measure.
“Although the attack was not in Mindanao, the act was opportunistic in nature and disregards the nature of the NDF declaration,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said, referring to the communist National Democratic Front.
“We ask the NDF to call on their armed comrades on the ground to walk the talk and to show genuine sincerity on the confidence-building measure initiated by the government,” he added.
Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla also said it was clear the NPA objective was to get more arms.
He also said the NPA forces knew the government defenses elsewhere were weakened because reinforcements were sent to Mindanao.
“One of the reasons they did the attack on Maasin [is that] many of our troops went to Mindanao. That’s why we say it’s very opportunistic on their part,” Padilla said.
At least 50 suspected members of the New People’s Army ransacked a police station in Maasin, Iloilo province on Sunday morning, taking away several firearms from the police station including eight M16 rifles, four Glock 9mm pistols, five handheld radios, a base radio, and two laptops. The rebels also took P25,000 from the police station and a patrol car.
The NPA Coronacion “Waling-Waling” Chiva Command in Panay issued a statement confirming the attack, with its spokesperson, Ka Julio Montana, accusing the municipal police force of extorting from small vendors and allowing the proliferation of illegal drugs and gambling.
Abella, however, questioned the timing of the NPA attacks, coming as they did as both sides were discussing a ceasefire.
Presidential Adviser on Peace Process Jesus Dureza said that they will be pushing for a nationwide ceasefire amid the government’s resolve to end the longest communist insurgency in Asia.
“The NPA attack in Maasin, Iloilo and elsewhere must be dealt with accordingly and decisively by the AFP and the PNP with the cooperation of civilian agencies and the affected communities,” Dureza said in a statement.
“It is disheartening to note that such attacks provide a negative impact in our mutual commitment with the NDF to provide that enabling environment conducive to the continuation of peace negotiations with them.”
The public’s trust in rebel groups and armed movements remain “poor,” the latest Social Weather Stations survey showed.
The survey among 1,200 adult respondents, showed that some 28 percent of Filipinos expressed much trust and 38 percent showed little trust in the National Democratic Front (NDF), the revolutionary front organization of left-leaning groups, which included the Communist Party of the Philippines and their armed wing, the New People’s Army.
Trust in the CPP and NPA remained low at 21 percent while 48 percent expressed “little trust” in the communists.
The resulting net trust rating scores were a “poor” -10 for the NDF and a “poor” -27 for the CPP/NPA.
Among Moro groups, some 18 percent of Filipinos expressed “much trust” and 56 percent had “little trust” in the Moro National Liberation Front, resulting in a net trust rating of “bad” -38.
For the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, some 18 percent expressed “much trust” while 57 percent said they had “little trust” in the group, resulting in a net trust rating of “bad” -39.
The First Quarter 2017 Social Weather Survey, conducted from March 25-28, 2017 has a nationwide sampling error margins of ±3 percent.
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