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Military campaign vs NPA continues

Military operations against the New People’s Army (NPA) will continue in the absence of a ceasefire declaration, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippiines (AFP) spokesman.

While the AFP welcomes the interim joint ceasefire agreement signed by the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, AFP Public Affairs Office chief Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo said the military will continue to pursue its mandate as protector of the people and the State.

“While we give primacy to the peace process, we have to continue with our focused, deliberate, and surgical combat, intelligence, and civil-military operations for the meantime,” Arevalo said in a statement.

Arevalo said the AFP is hopeful that the negotiators from both sides will soon be able to finalize and approve the guidelines and ground rules that will ultimately lead to the declaration of ceasefire.

On Wednesday, both panels signed the document that could lead to a comprehensive settlement of the 48-year insurgency. The ceasefire takes effect as soon as the guidelines and ground rules are approved.

Meanwhile, the military rejected the NDF’s call for a 10-day suspension of operations in parts of Bukidnon, Agusan del Norte, and Surigao del Norte for the release of captives held by the NPA.

Army 4th Infantry Division chief Major General Benjamin Madrigal, said only President Duterte can issue the order.

“In the absence of such declaration, we continue in performing our mandate of protecting communities against terroristic attacks by the NPAs such as burning of equipment and extortion activities,” Madrigal said.

Madrigal said the NPA can release its captives without the suspension of military operations as what happened in Davao. “They can simply leave them to local officials without any funfare,” Madrigal said. (FRANCIS WAKEFIELD)

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