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Lorenzana backs Duterte’s move not to resume peace talks with rebels

MANILA, July 21 — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he strongly supports President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision not to resume formal peace talks with the New People’s Army (NPA) so long as it continues to commit atrocities and extortion.

In a statement issued Friday, Lorenzana said he will only support calls for formal peace talks once the NPA rebels stop their attacks and extortion activities, and rein in the warmongers in their group.

“The government has proven its sincerity in dealing with the communist movement. This, in turn, is reciprocated by double talk and treachery. Hindi naman puwedeng ganito na lang palagi ang nangyayari. Kailangan na nating magkalinawan. (This cannot happen all the time. We need to be clear about this.) That is why I ask the leaders and members of the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army): Do you really want peace or do you want to continue down the bloody path of war?​” he said.

Duterte has earlier called for the cancellation of back-channel talks with the NPA following a series of attacks against civilian and military targets in various parts of the country.

These attacks include the torching of equipment of Department of Public Works and Highways contractors in Gumaca, Quezon; an unprovoked attack in Bukidnon, which killed a police officer; the blasting of landmines in Quirino, where six soldiers were hurt; the destruction of plantations which are the source of people’s livelihood in Surigao del Sur; the killing of soldiers who were buying food in a market in Palawan; and the attack on officers of the Presidential Security Group in North Cotabato, who were there to secure the president.

The defense chief said this series of assaults show why they are rightfully labeled as communist terrorists. (Priam F. Nepomuceno/PNA)

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