By Priam F. Nepomuceno
MANILA, Dec. 13 (PNA) — Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday said he strongly supports a bilateral ceasefire agreement with the New People’s Army (NPA) as it would prevent rogue elements of the rebels from creating trouble in the countryside.
“Of course, we would like a bilateral ceasefire agreement as it prevent the (rogue) NPAs from creating trouble in the countryside. We are still getting reports that some of their elements are still extorting. Hopefully, once the bilateral ceasefire agreement is signed, and the NDF (National Democratic Front) can control their people, these criminals will not commit anymore criminal acts in the countryside,” he said in Filipino.
Lorenzana also clarified that there will be no pullout of troops in countryside and that the military will continue responding to reports of lawless elements creating havoc.
“The difficulty in this situation is that the NDF is that they cannot prevent their people from conducting extortion rackets, and burning trucks and equipment (of businesses not giving it to their demand). That’s why President (Rodrigo Duterte) told them to stop these atrocities or peace negotiations will stop,” he added.
The DND chief also the NPAs cannot prevent law enforcement operations as these missions are not targeting their armed members as long as these individuals are not publicly showing their weapons.
Lorenzana also stressed that the NPAs cannot claim of owning any territory in the country as pointed out by the President who added that the military can go anywhere when enforcing laws. (PNA)