- Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the government may be declaring an all-out war against the NPA
- He said there is no more difference between the Communist rebels and the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf
- However, he clarified the military will only be hunting down the armed component of the Communist group
MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is looking at the possibility of the government declaring an all-out war against the Communist rebels following President Rodrigo Duterte’s calling for the suspension of peace talks.
The Defense chief also vowed to hunt down members of the New People’s Army (NPA), the Communist’s armed wing, whom Duterte has recently categorized as ‘terrorists’.
“Yes, it is an all-out war kasi they are considered by the President already as terrorists. We also consider them as terrorists,” Lorenzana told reporters in Malacañang on Tuesday.
Lorenzana said there is no difference between the NPAs and the Abu Sayyaf as both groups have been terrorizing innocent civilians across the country.
The Abu Sayyaf kidnap people and then they get money. The NPA will threaten those businessmen and also get money. There’s no difference at all,” said the Cabinet official, a former military himself.
“They are there to terrorize people, to give them money, that’s extortion. So we will hunt them down and maybe stop them from doing what they are doing,” he added.
On Monday, Duterte has ordered the arrest of all National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants who are currently in Oslo, Norway for an ongoing peace negotiations with the Philippine government.
The visibly-irked Duterte made the remarks after visiting the wake of three slain soldiers who were killed in an ambush by New People’s Army (NPA) in Bukidnon last week.
However, Lorenzan clarified the all-out war will be targeting only the armed components of the Communist group, and not their ‘peace-loving’ supporters.
“It’s only the armed component that we are going after because they are the ones who can go around and intimidate people,” he said.
The official added they will be hunting down the estimated 5000-strong NPA who have become a threat to the country’s security.
However, he assured the military will not be committing human rights abuses during this massive campaign and even vowed to punish his men should they be found guilty of said violations.