Lorenzana warns NPA over continued extortion activities

Posted on January 13, 2017

GOVERNMENT forces are ready to resume armed operations against communist rebels, the country’s Defense secretary said, as he expressed dismay over the alleged continued extortion and attacks by members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, in a press conference on Thursday, said the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has been carrying out these attacks in parts of Mindanao amid the unilateral cease-fire issued by both the government and the CPP.

“One side unilateral, the other side’s people keep on making trouble in the south like extorting money from businessmen, burning facilities and buses, they were trying to extort money from one of the buses, bus company in South Cotabato, they refused to pay, they burned total of five buses last month,” Mr. Lorenzana said.

He added that should the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF), under which the CPP-NPA belongs, fail to reach a bilateral cease-fire agreement, the military would not hesitate to launch retaliatory attacks against the armed rebels.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Mr. Lorenzana said, will support this.

The government and the NDF-CPP-NPA peace talks will resume later this month in Rome.

“Hopefully they will be able to agree on this bilateral agreement, cease-fire,” said Mr. Lorenzana, “(it is) very important” to pursue development programs.

“You know, development won’t flourish in those places because of the agitators,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Defense secretary expressed confidence that the newly appointed chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Gen. Eduardo M Año, will be able to meet the six months target to eradicate other enemies of the state such as the Abu Sayyaf Group and Maute Group.

“I have great confidence on his... leadership of the Armed Forces,” Mr. Lorenza said. -- Jumaine Christene V. Doctolero