THE attack of the New People’s Army (NPA) on a police station in Iloilo province was an opportunistic act, Malacañang said yesterday.
At a briefing, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella pointed out it was unfortunate for the NPA to raid a police station in Iloilo just after the government reciprocated the National Democratic Front’s declaration to refrain from offensive operations in Mindanao.
“Although the attack was not in Mindanao, the act was opportunistic in nature and disregards the nature of the NDF declaration,” Abella said during the Mindanao Hour in Malacañang.
“We ask the NDF to call on their armed comrades on the ground to walk the talk and to show genuine sincerity in the confidence-building measure initiated by the government and their side,” he added.
Abella also dismissed NPA’s Ka Julio Montana’s reasons for the raid, that the Maasin policemen extorted from local vendors and tolerated the illegal drug trade and illegal gambling in the town.
“Of course, they [authorities] need to look into it [the claims]. However, it seems to be ill-timed, don’t you think so? There was an agreement that was being signed. So what kind of message that is sent? So I suggest they carefully calibrate their actions,” he said.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. echoed Abella’s statement, and added that the NPA fighters were after the arms.
“May I add? Panis na iyong excuse na iyon. Huwag n’yo nang pinapatulan. They do this intentionally because their objective was to get more arms,” he said.
Padilla also said that the NPA forces knew that troops in other areas were flown to Marawi City to fight the ISIS- inspired Maute group.
“One of the reasons they did the attack on Maasin we know because of many of our troops went to Mindanao. So with the forces spread thin, they knew that they can do this, they took advantage,” he said.
PNP condemns latest NPA attack in Iloilo
The Philippine National Police leadership yesterday condemned the New People’s attack on the Maasin Municipal Police Station in Iloilo province Sunday morning which caught duty officers by surprise.
The raiders fled with a cache of PNP-issued rifles and pistols and radios.
The latest NPA raid came just hours after the government said it would suspend offensives against communist rebels to pave the way for the resumption of formal peace talks in The Netherlands.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the government’s move was aimed at reciprocating a declaration of Communist Party of the Philippines negotiators last Saturday that their armed wing-the NPA-would stop attacks to allow the military to focus on the fight against Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Marawi City.
Apparently, the CPP declaration was not followed by the NPA after its guerrillas raided the Maasin police station around 10:45 a.m. Sunday. Police Regional Office 6 director, Chief Superintendent Cesar Hawthorne R. Binag condemned the treacherous act and said he has ordered the filing of criminal charges for robbery and carnapping (carjacking) against the NPA raiders.
With Alfred Dalizon