No Christmas truce as Duterte ends peace talks with Reds

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By Daniel Llanto | FilAm Star Correspondent

At least 40 officers of the local communist movement who were conditionally freed by President Duterte in deference to the peace negotiations are now being hunted by the police and military for immediate arrest following cancellation of any future peace talks.

Those earlier released from prison and now facing warrants of arrest were led by Communist Party of the Philippines Central Committee Chairman Benito Tiamzon, his wife Wilma, who is the secretary general; Alan Jazmines, a member of the central committee, and New People’s Army leaders Tirso Alcantara, alias Ka Bart; and Vic Ladlad.

The round-up of CPP leaders is on as government forces have been alerted in anticipation of intensified attacks following the termination of the peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

This is according to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero who made the remarks after President Duterte signed Proclamation 360 that terminated the government’s peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA-NDF.

“We expect the NPAs to intensify their attacks against innocent and defenseless targets,” Guerrero said. “My directive to the troops is to intensify our focused military operations to destroy the NPA, and to protect our communities against terrorism.”

According to Philippine National Police Director Gen. Ronald de la Rosa, all those who have live arrest warrants are now being pursued. “Our operations are on-going against them since they have live warrants. If the warrants are not yet quashed and they are still live, then they have to be arrested,” he said.

The PNP Chief said the 175,000-organization police force is closely coordinating with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) following the President’s cancellation of all scheduled talks with the CPP-NDF, the political wing of the NPA.

The Duterte administration has earlier agreed to continue peace negotiations and to speed up the signing and implementation of the final peace agreement with the CPP-NDF. But the communist group failed to show “sincerity and commitment” in dealing with the government.

The PNP will be using the anti-terrorism law in dealing with the communist rebels amid the anticipated escalation of attacks by the NPA after President Duterte ordered the termination of peace talks with the group. This will happen as soon as Duterte issues a formal declaration listing the CPP-NPA as terrorists which he announced last week.

In preparation for the escalation of NPA attacks, Dela Rosa said the elite forces of the PNP were already alerted to secure police stations and other vital installations in NPA-infested areas.

And as the PNP expects that there would be no Christmas truce this year, Carlos said they will not only take the defensive but also offensive stance against the communist rebels.

Police stations and police personnel are among the favorite targets of the communist rebels in their attacks. Just recently, the rebels killed a police commando and wounded 10 others in an ambush in Iloilo.

The Eastern Mindanao Command has called for vigilance to thwart any attempt by the rebel group to launch atrocities in reaction to the cancellation of the peace talks. Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., EastMinCom chief, directed all subordinate units to raise security posture and prevent the NPAs from conducting atrocities against communities, economic establishments, military posts and personnel.

“We have to be vigilant, intensify our monitoring and be pro-active in order to prevent them from terrorizing communities; their actions in the previous months reflect their character and intent. While our government exerted its best effort to reach out to their group to end this insurgency through peace agreement, the CPP-NPA-NDF has reciprocated it with treachery, acts of violence and hostilities,” Madrigal said.

Dela Rosa said they are coordinating with the Armed Forces in the anticipated NPA attacks. “We have to support (the troops) in the counter-insurgency campaign,” he said, adding, “In the area of case build-up is where we have the bigger part, being the police…we will concentrate on that,” he said.

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