By Francis Wakefield
The spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Monday said there is a need for them to be skeptical and observant of the request made by the New People’s Army (NPA) for a ceasefire with the government considering that they take this opportunity to regroup and recruit new members.
In a press briefing at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, AFP spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo, said although the military continues to advocate for peace and are supportive of all peace efforts – national or local – to have a lasting peace in the country, there is a need to be skeptical to the true intention of the NPAs in the peace talks.
“Muli sinasabi natin kelangan po nating maging mas mapanuri at mapagmatyag hingil sa kahilihingan ng New People’s Army for ceasefire (Again we are saying we need to be more skeptical and observant of the request of the New People’s Army for a ceasefire),” Arevalo told reporters.
Arevalo said the room to be skeptical is there considering that communist rebels who previously surrendered revealed that the CPP-NPA take the opportunity to regroup, hold meetings and recruit new members during the duration of the peace talks and ceasefire.
He said the previous figure they released show there are about an estimated 3,000 CPP-NPAs, including regular members and supporters. Despite the recent surrender of a number of rebels, the current figure is between 3,900 and 4,000 members.
“But this only goes to show na ito talaga ang hinihintay nilang pagkakataon (this is the moment they have been waiting for),” Arevalo said.
“As I have mentioned to you, these figures, the statistics that we are winning, we can glean from it. Their desire to return to the negotiating table is for them to be able to have a chance to regroup,” Arevalo said.
Arevalo said no less than communist leader Luis Jalandoni also admitted in a previous interview that the peace negotiation is one of their approaches as a legal struggle, but they never really abandoned their armed struggle.
“By going in peace negotiation, by going in peace talks, they are merely advancing their armed struggle. Hindi talaga nila ito iniiwan. (they never abandon it),” Arevalo said.