Military accuses Reds of using peace talks, Marawi crisis in strengthening forces
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) accused on Friday the communist rebels of using the peace talks and the Marawi crisis in strengthening their forces.
Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr., AFP spokesman, said atrocities the New People's Army has committed also increased.
"Well, it was only logical that because of the period of peace brought about by the peace talks and the relative lack of concrete government action to check on their movements," he said in a press briefing in Malacanang if the leftist rebels could have used the peace process and the operations against the terrorists in Marawi in recruiting members.
"It was apparent that they would have used that as --- to their advantage and that, I would say is, one, that they wanted to increase their membership through recruitment or their areas of movement to other areas," he said.
Padilla cited the "significant increases" in the "violent incidents" allegedly committed by the communist rebels.
From January to November 30 this year, he said, "there has been a tremendous increase of 65 percent overall for Eastern Mindanao and Western Mindanao, with the majority falling over in the area of Eastern Mindanao, of violent incidents perpetrated by the NPA."
There were a total of 617 incidents for the whole of the year and 382 of them were committed in the Eastern Mindanao Command area and 18 in the Western Mindanao Command area by the NPA, he noted.
"Of these violent incidents, the telltale effect has been one to note because in 2016 where the damage we have computed or [estimated] was at about over a hundred million. There was a 2,000 percent increase in the amount on the effect of the violent incidents on business alone --- 2.4 billion (pesos)per our estimate was the amount of establishments, assets of government, construction companies and other businesses that have gone up in flames. It’s arson alone," Padilla explained.
He said the violence being committed by the NPA has been affecting the economy, particularly the poor who were supposed to benefit from the goveenment's projects.
"So we cannot let this continue and I think the President (Rodrigo Duterte) is fully aware of this, that is why he had to formally end peace talks because of these continued violent incidents and its effect on our economy," he said.
Duterte has terminated the peace talks with the leftist rebels and declare them as terrorists. Celerina Monte/DMS