By Priam F. Nepomuceno
Despite taking a more pro-active stance against the New People’s Army with the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire Saturday, the AFP is still hoping that a more lasting and just peace will come out in the Aug. 20 Oslo, Norway talks with the insurgents.
This was stressed by AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla in briefing Monday.
“Despite our pro-active stance, the AFP remains supportive of the peace process (and) we hopeful that a long and lasting peace (will come out of the Oslo talks,” he said in Filipino.
Padilla said this elusive peace is the long-time dream of the soldiery and the populace, very tired of this drawn-out conflict.
However, he also clarified that despite this desire for peace, the AFP is committed to carrying out its constitutionally mandated task of protecting the people and country’s sovereignty.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared the unilateral ceasefire against the rebels during his first State-of-the-Nation Address last July 25 in line with achieving the government’s goal of final and lasting peace.
But the Chief Executive ordered the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire after the 5:00 p.m. Saturday ultimatum he gave lapsed without reciprocation from the rebels.
“Correspondingly, I am ordering the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to also withdraw the operational guidelines they issued in pursuance to that ceasefire declaration,” Duterte stressed.
Prior the deadline, the President demanded a concrete explanation from the rebels regarding its July 27 attack against militia units in Kapalong, Davao Del Norte which killed one and wounded four others.
“The NPA have missed a golden opportunity to manifest their commitment to the attainment of our citizen’s much sought peace throughout the land,” Padilla said.
“This could have been what the Filipino nation had been waiting for — the silencing of the guns that could have hastened development especially in the countryside. As things now stand, the AFP will abide by the ensuing orders of the Commander-in-Chief President Rodrigo Duterte following this development,” AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya said.
“I am ordering all our forces to resume their normal mandated tasks and work to neutralize all threats to national security, protect the citizenry, enforce the laws and maintain peace in the land,” he added. (PNA)