Military clashes with Reds at least 30 times since Feb. 4: general
The Armed Forces of the Philippines has recorded at least 30 encounters with the communist New People's Army since the government's declaration of ceasefire was lifted early this month.
In an press conference in Baguio City on Saturday, AFP chief of staff General Eduardo Ano said there are about 30 encounters since military forces shifted to offensive mode last February 4.
"With the NPA, we resumed our offensive (on) February 4. That was the time that the President (Rodrigo Duterte) officially lifted, not only the ceasefire, but also the peace negotiation. So we shifted to offensive mode and since February 4 to date, February 18, there are about 30 encounters already. So, if you compute, it's like having two encounters a day," he said.
He also said around 40 NPA members were neutralized since the operations resumed. These include 12 killed with body count, 15 captured, and 17 surrendered.
"So, that is so far the statistics but we are intensifying our operations more on the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA," he added.
While the military supports the possible resumption of the peace talks, Ano, however, said they will not allow the leftist group to conduct atrocities and similar activities, and imperil the lives of the ordinary people in the community.
"Our stance, is we are open to have peace negotiations but according to the President, there must be a compelling reason for him to again go back to the negotiating table. But we have a mandate to do, we have to follow the order of the President and of course we have to eliminate the threat," he said. Ella Dionisio/DMS