Philippine security forces ‘ready and able’ to deal with Maoist insurgents

Ellie Aben
Mon, 2017-12-04 22:40

MANILA: Amid a spate of attacks by Maoist rebels, the Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) on Monday stressed that government security forces are ready to defend their country and especially the president of the republic.
DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong, was speaking after former President Fidel V. Ramos expressed his concern over the security situation in the country following Proclamation 360, signed on Nov. 23, which officially terminated peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NDF-CPP-NPA) rebel groups.
Ramos told the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the military and police must be ready to protect their commander-in-chief, President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Our troops must always be alert to any attack, especially an ambush by the New People’s Army (NPA) in any part of the country, including Metro Manila,” Ramos said, adding that government forces “must be on guard to thwart rebel attacks, especially with the onset of the Christmas season.”
In the days since Duterte signed Proclamation 360, a series of clashes have occurred between government forces and the NPA. The latest fighting occurred in Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato on Sunday afternoon and resulted in the death of two soldiers and four NPA fighters.
Information from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo indicates that the firefight lasted for about an hour.
Also on Sunday, at around 3 a.m., approximately 200 Maoist rebels attacked the Philippine National Police (PNP) station in Binuangan, Misamis Oriental, but were beaten back by police who, according to reports, withstood a “hail of bullets and grenades” in a fight that lasted around three hours. Four policemen were wounded.
On Saturday, a town councilor and a policeman were killed in separate attacks staged by the NPA in the provinces of Cagayan province and Camarines Norte.
The NPA has confirmed that 15 of its fighters were killed last week in a gunbattle with government forces in Nasugbu, Batangas.
Responding to a query from Arab News, Andolong said: “Rest assured, our defenders are always on alert for possible attacks on our people, and most especially the president.”
He added that the NPA are simply following the same path they took even when peace talks were still ongoing and their unilateral cease-fire was in effect.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque echoed that sentiment, saying there is nothing surprising about the atrocities committed by the NPA.
“It’s business as usual,” Roque said in a press conference. “When we were talking peace, they were attacking. Now that we’re not talking peace, they are attacking. So what else is new? It’s continuous attacks from them.”
He added, however, that the AFP is “ready and able to deal with them, as shown in the recent incident in Nasugbu.”
Last week, the president issued a “kill order” against armed communist rebels, and revealed that an executive order is in the works to declare the NPA a terrorist group.
“If there is an armed NPA there, or terrorist, if he’s holding a firearm, shoot,” Duterte told troops. “They will kill you anyway.”
The AFP, meanwhile, said Maoist insurgents have two choices: surrender or be killed.

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