MANILA - The Philippine government on Monday urged communist rebels to rein in its armed wing and "show genuine sincerity" after the New People's Army raided a police station in Iloilo over the weekend.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said it is "unfortunate" that the NPA raided a police station in Iloilo on the same day the government reciprocated the National Democratic Front’s declaration to refrain from undertaking offensive operations in Mindanao.
"Although the attack was not in Mindanao, the act was opportunistic in nature and disregards the nature of the NDF declaration," he said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
"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 in their side," he added.
Quoting Presidential Peace Adviser Jess Dureza, Abella said the raid's impact is "not just for peace negotiations, but it illustrates the tragedy of the insurgency."
"Hopefully, the attack is just part of the birth pains of the agreement to stop offensive military actions even if it only covers Mindanao as of now. It is an argument for further nationwide ceasefire," he said.
Around 50 armed men, believed to be members of the NPA, raided the Maasin municipal police station on Sunday, supposedly taking 11 M16 rifles, 4 pistols, ammunition, and VHF radios.
On the same day, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Silvestre Bello III said government forces will cease its offensive operations against the armed communist rebels, as government reciprocates the NDFP's declaration to refrain from undertaking offensive operations in Mindanao.
President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to end during his term the nearly five decade-long Maoist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.
However, the peace talks, which was supposed to enter its fifth round, were suspended for the second time last month.