BAGUIO CITY - Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Rey Leonardo Guerrero on Saturday slammed the New People's Army for sowing terror and attacking civilians and non-combatants.
"Wala naman silang idealism eh. Clearly, siguro from the very beginning, nakita natin talaga ang main goal nila is not only to destabilize the government, overthrow the government and change it with a communist rule but also to sow fear and terror sa mga kababayan natin through their atrocities," Guerrero said in a speech before Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets.
(They do not have idealism. Clearly, from the very beginning, we saw that their main goal is not only to destabilize the government, overthrow the government and change it with a communist rule but also to sow fear and terror among our countrymen through their atrocities.)
Guerrero, who spoke as guest of honor at PMA's weekly parade and review, said President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to label the NPA as a terrorist group befits the nature of Asia's longest running communist insurgency.
"This is just consistent with the behavior of the NPA. Clearly, what they are doing [are not] criminal acts but acts of terrorism. So there's nothing wrong with labeling them as terrorists," Guerrero said.
"They are targeting not only combatants, military forces but innocent civilians as well," he added.
Last month, the President ordered policemen and soldiers to shoot armed NPA rebels. This after the collapse of peace negotiations between government and the communist movement.
"So what will be my orders? ‘Di shoot them. Eh they will kill you anyway. So if there is an armed NPA there or terrorists, if he’s holding any firearms, shoot. And tell any... ako na ang magsagot, you just shut up," Duterte said in a speech in Sual, Pangasinan.
On Tuesday, Duterte declared the NPA, the communist party's armed wing, as a terrorist group, marking a major shift in the once friendly ties between the tough-talking leader and the Left.
Duterte pulled away from the negotiating table earlier this year after the NPA continued to launch attacks against state forces despite ongoing talks.
The administration formalized the termination of negotiations just last month.
Still, Duterte said Friday that there was still hope for the talks to resume if the communist movement agrees with certain conditions, including a halt in the NPA's practice of collecting revolutionary taxes.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said Duterte decided to stop pursuing peace talks with the communists after a 4-month-old infant and an unarmed soldier were killed in separate attacks this year.
"Usaping traydor ang nangyari diyan," Roque said.
(Talks fell through because of treachery.)
A spate of skirmishes between government troops and communist rebels have erupted since the termination of talks, including clashes in Batangas last month. - with a report from Melinda Ramo, ABS-CBN News