MANILA Instead of requesting for a truce, it would be much better for New People's Army (NPA) rebels to lay down their arms and surrender peacefully, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday.
"We urge the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA) and their supporters to take the peaceful path towards change so that a just and lasting peace may be achieved, thereby rendering a truce or ceasefire unnecessary," Lorenzana said as the possibility of resuming peace negotiations with the NPA surfaced anew.
He earlier said that the NPA's desire to resume peace talks could be summarized in three points.
"First, their fighters and mass base are surrendering in droves. As of last count, more than 4,000 have done so nationwide, with the bulk coming from Eastern Mindanao. More and more are returning to society because of the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program and their desire to give their families a better future," Lorenzana said.
"Second, the President has given notice that any business found paying and helping the NPA would be closed. Rather than serve as milking cows of lazy insurgents, these establishments can cooperate with our authorities and enjoy the protection of our security forces without having to pay anything," he added.
Third, he said, they are about to be declared by the court as a terrorist organization.
They can no longer hide their sinister plans and actions by using their political ideology as their legal cover," he added.
Lorenzana said the NPA is not really out for genuine peace during negotiations as they are merely using the respite provided by the talks to strengthen their armed rebellion.
"Let us not delude ourselves because it is not. They will just use the peace talks with the government as their so-called democratic space to gain time and advantage to further their armed rebellion. Once their purpose is accomplished, they would create situations to break off the talks, he said, adding that they have done this many times in the past and this is why we have not had any progress in the last three decades".
Lorenzana said he is flattered by the rebels' accusation that he is the cause of the peace talks' stoppage.
"This, I consider, is a fulfillment of my patriotic duty to stand and defend the people against their deceptive schemes and despicable acts," he said.
On Nov. 23 last year, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Proclamation 360, which scrapped all peace negotiations and meetings with the rebel group that stemmed out from NPA atrocities and other acts of violence against civilians and security forces while the peace talks were ongoing.
Source: Philippine News Agency