The New People’s Army (NPA) raid on a police station in Iloilo yesterday was not covered by the government and the Left’s statements to mutually refrain from offensive operations in Mindanao, a cabinet secretary clarified today.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said in a statement the Maasin, Iloilo incident must be dealt with by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as there is no mutually-agreed bilateral ceasefire agreement in place nationwide.
While “disheartened” with the attack, Dureza said he hopes “the attack is just part of the birthpains of the agreement to stop offensive military actions even if it covers only Mindanao as of now.”
A unit of the NPA’s Napoleon Tumagtang Command in Panay Island launched a daring 20-minute daytime raid yesterday that netted them 11 M16 assault rifles, four pistols, assorted ammunition and communication equipment.
The surprised PNP officers on duty failed to put up a fight.
Julio Montana, spokesperson of the Coronacion “Waling-Waling” Regional Command of the NPA in Panay, said the raid was in response to complaints of extortion of small time market vendors by the Maasin PNP.
“(They also) allow narcotics and illegal gambling to proliferate,” Montana said in a statement issued after the raid.
AFP’s Task Force Panay immediately deployed to Maasin but the guerillas have already withdrawn from the Maasin town center on board a truck and PNP’s own patrol vehicle.
Both vehicles were later separately found abandoned in neighboring towns.
The NPA is an allied organization of the NDFP.
The NDFP and the Rodrigo Duterte government are reportedly holding back-channel talks after their cancelled fifth round of formal peace negotiations in The Netherlands last month in an effort to resume talks in August. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)