MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is mum on calls by some officials to terminate peace talks with communist rebels following the weekend raid on an Iloilo town police station by the New People’s Army.
“As of this moment, there’s no instruction from the President to discontinue the government’s peace negotiation,” Duterte’s spokesman, Ernesto Abella, said at a press briefing Tuesday.
The Sunday morning raid on the Maasin police netted the NPA 11 assault rifles, four pistols, ammunition and communications equipment, all without firing a shot.
The raid came as the peace panels of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which represents the communists, and the government issued statements favoring a suspension of offensives against each other’s forces on Mindanao, where Duterte has declared martial law and security forces continue to battle extremist gunmen in Marawi City for a month now.
It also happened soon after the Army’s 82nd Infantry Battalion was redeployed from Panay to Lanao del Sur to reinforce government forces battling extremist gunmen in Marawi City.
Abella called the Maasin raid regrettable and said the government expects the NDFP to take more concrete steps towards continuing the peace talks.