Communist rebels should stop attacks if they want peace talks to be revived – Palace

By Genalyn Kabiling

Communist rebels should put a stop to their attacks if they are really sincere in reviving the peace talks with the government, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN) Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the latest rebel attack in Eastern Samar has placed into question the sincerity of the group to jumpstart the talks.

“Siyempre ayaw natin iyon. Iyong mga NPAs (New People’s Army) kung gusto talaga nilang makipag-usap eh dapat tigilan na nila iyong ginagawa nila (Of course, we don't like that. If the New People Army rebels really want to talk peace, they should stop what they're doing)," he said during a press conference in Malacañang.

"Kasi (Because) when you do that, your sincerity is in question with respect to peace talks,” he added.

Local Communist rebels launched an ambush on a police patrol in Borongan, Eastern Samar, that left two people dead and injured several others. The rebels reportedly detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) by the roadside of a passing police car and other passing vehicles, then unleashed a volley of gunfire that led to the death of a patrolman and a civilian.

The rebel attack occurred just days after President Duterte sent Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to talk to Communist rebel leader Jose Maria Sison in Utrecht, The Netherlands to discuss the possible revival of stalled peace talks.

Asked how the impact of the latest rebel attack in Samar on plans to resume the peace talks, Panelo said: "Let us see how it will affect the proposed peace talks."

The President, meantime, is expected to consider the recommendation of the top defense officials on whether or not to declare a holiday truce with the rebels.

Panelo noted that Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have opposed such truce with the rebels.

"I think both of them are against it. And usually, the President defers to whatever recommendation those people on the ground give him," he said.