Military welcomes NPA offer but says their captives must be freed
The military forces may suspend its combat operation against the members of New People’s Army (NPA) to give way for the release of the government forces they have previously abducted.
"The AFP welcomes the decision of the NPA to release the security forces they abducted," Col. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs chief told reporters Monday in response to the statement of the Communist Party of the Philippines ordering their armed wing to release six soldiers and policemen they have abducted in Mindanao.
"Their captives, however, our security forces should be released as an act of goodwill and not as leverage to constrain the government to go back to the negotiating table," he added.
Arevalo said the abduction of the government forces in different parts of Mindanao is not the only reason President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled peace talks with the communist group.
"The abduction of the six security forces who were not engaged in combat operations is not the cause of the lifting of the unilateral ceasefire of the government or the termination of the peace negotiation," he said.
"It is brutal killing of the three soldiers riddled with at least 24 bullet wounds in Bukidnon, the burning of public conveyances and farm implements, the extortion by NPA among other atrocious criminal activities that caused the collapse of the talks" he added.
Arevalo said if the rebels will release their captives, the military may suspend operation in specific areas for their safe release.
In their statement, the CPP said the release is a positive gesture to continue the peace negotiation with the Philippine government.
Arevalo said the NPA may show their sincerity with the peace process by stopping their extortion and violent activities. Robina Asido/DMS