MANILA- The Armed Forces of the Philippines on Friday assured that offensives against the New People’s Army (NPA) are ongoing following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to use all assets in the government's war against communist rebels.
Military spokesman, Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said the military has gone “full circle” in launching offensives against the NPA which have begun since the lifting of the ceasefire from both the government and the Reds.
“We have already been launching offensives against the NPA since the time the ceasefire was lifted on their side and our side,” he said in a phone interview on ANC’s “Dateline Philippines.”
Duterte on Thursday urged the military and the police to use all their assets in the war against communist rebels following the killing of four policemen allegedly by the NPA.
The slain policemen were reportedly responding to a report from a barangay official that a murder happened in Bansalan, Davao del Sur when they were attacked by suspected members of the NPA.
Killed in action were PO1 Rolly Benelayo, PO1 Joe Narvaza, PO1 Saro Mangutara, all members of Bansalan Municipal Police Station, and PO3 Jayden May Rabor, a member of the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) in Digos City.
“Since then, the Armed Forces has gone full circle in commencing its operations against the NPA in all these areas particularly in Eastern Mindanao side,” Padilla said.
Padilla noted that since the resumption of hostilities last February, communist rebels have been attempting to commit numerous crimes such as arson and extortion on businessmen.
“There has been so much arson and burning and attempts for extortion on businessmen that have been going on and most of those have been perpetuated by the NPA which has reduced them literally to a band of bandits trying to extort money from all these legitimate businesses—something we have to prevent and something the police has to act on,” he said.
Asked whether the military is still supportive of efforts to revive peace talks despite the recent attack, Padilla said soldiers are “always leaning toward peace.”
“More than 4 decades of fighting against Filipinos is not good for the Philippines,” he said.
Duterte recently revealed that backchannel talks with communist rebels are ongoing but did not disclose further details.