AFP, PNP search for 4 abducted police personnel

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 26 2016 06:45 PM

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are conducting pursuit operation for the four PNP personnel abducted by suspected communist rebels.

Police said the policemen were not on duty when they were abducted by suspected New People's Army rebels who posed as soldiers.

"We heard about this and the police has been informed as well. We work with our line units there, verifying the areas where this incident occurred and we will work closely with the police," AFP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said.

This, despite President Rodrigo Duterte's announcement of a unilateral ceasefire with communist groups during his first State of the Nation Address on Monday.

Padilla explained, the suspension of military operation does not apply to operations the AFP is conducting against private armed groups, lawless elements, extremist terrorists, and kidnap for ransom groups. They will also continue their support to law enforcement operations by the police.

"This becomes a law enforcement operation in the event that the police desires to initiate an attempt to rescue, but be that as it may, it would be good to reach out and discuss this with the other side, hoping that cooler heads will prevail," he said.

FULL SUPPORT FOR DUTERTE

There was an advise prior to Duterte's pronouncement at the SONA, said Padilla, and the AFP fully supports the declaration of ceasefire.

"The mission of the armed forces, if you will break it down to the essential, is to secure and bring peace to the land. From that perspective, what we are doing remains aligned with what the president desires, which is to end hostilities within the country," he said.

He added, previous attempts at having sustainable peace did not work and it's about time that a new approach be in place.

"If he succeeds along this line and he has our full cooperation, by the way, it should be something that the Filipino people should be thankful for," said Padilla.

"Our energies can now be channeled for helping secure our land from other outside forces as well as concentrate on development projects that may no longer be threatened by internal security issues," he said.

Yet, he maintained, the AFP will not let its guard down.

"We are viewing this with guarded optimism, and we shall stay on the alert, remain vigilant in order to protect and safeguard the communities to whom they have trusted us to keep safe," he said.

The military will not be pulling out its troops in those areas as it is "the mandated task the Constitution has given [them] to do," said Padilla.

"We will continue for as long as we have these threat forces in the areas that we are now working on," he said.