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NDFP tells gov't: We stand on your side to fight US-backed terrorism

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines reiterated its previous declaration that it stood firmly with the government to oppose and fight terrorism instigated by groups backed by the US government.

Officials of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace panel during the opening ceremony for the 4th round of the GRP-NDFP peace talks in Noordwijk, the Netherlands on Monday, April 3, 2017

Over the weekend, NDFP peace panel chair Fidel Agcaoli said that the communist group, as matter of fundamental principle, "condemn and combat terrorism."

"By terrorism, we mean actions that intimidate, terrorize, harm and murder civilians solely or mainly and in violation of human rights and international humanitarian law," he said.

Agcaoili said that NDFP is determined to counteract the Maute, Abu Sayyaf and Ansar Al Khilafah Philippines (AKP) groups which are wreaking havoc in Marawi City.

"These are terrorist groups linked to local reactionary forces, affiliated with ISIS and supported by US-CIA and other foreign entities. The level of counteraction against terrorism, as well as the nature, scope and duration must be appropriate and proportional to the degree of danger, threat or harm and mayhem being committed by the terrorist groups concerned in Marawi City," the NDFP peace panel chair pointed out.

Early on, the communist group had ordered the Moro Resistance and Liberation Organization inside Marawi City "to assume home defense tasks against the Maute, Abu Sayyaf and AKP groups."

In order to effect its declaration, the NDFP has also directed units of the New People's Army close to Marawi City to "redeploy for the purpose of mopping up, holding and blocking operations, if necessary."

The NDFP, likewise, has recommended to the Communist Party of the Philippines "to order all other NPA units in Mindanao "to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police" in order to effect its declaration of opposing US-backed terrorism in Mindanao.

But Agcaoli pointed out that NPA would only refrain from carrying offensive attacks against government security forces if the government would also reciprocate the NDFP's declaration, saying that the government must also "order the AFP and PNP likewise to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against the NPA and people's militia."

"The NDFP is ready to discuss and agree in detail with the GRP on how ceasefire, coordination and cooperation can be achieved in Marawi City by both forces unilaterally keeping safe distances between each other," he said.

Meanwhile, GRP Peace Panel Chair Silvestro Bello III, in a statement on Sunday, said that the government welcomes the NDFP's statement reaffirming its support to the government to fight the local terrorist groups.

"We welcome the recent statement of the National Democratic Front (NDF) reaffirming its support to the Philippine government's fight against Maute, Abu Sayyaf, Ansar al-Khalifah Philippines (AKP) groups and other terrorist organizations wreaking havoc in Marawi City and other parts of the country," Bello said.

Bello said that the government also appreciates "NDF's commitment in their declaration to refrain from undertaking offensive operations in Mindanao to enable the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to focus their attention on the war against terror groups."

"These voluntary gestures and expressions from the NDF in solidarity with government against acts of terrorism augur well for the desired continuation of the stalled 5th round of peace talks as they provide, if sustained, the needed enabling environment favorable to moving the peace negotiations forward," he said.

The GRP peace panel chair also pointed out that the "government hereby correspondingly reciprocates with the same declaration of not undertaking offensive operations against the New People's Army to pave way for the eventual signing of a mutually agreed bilateral ceasefire agreement and agreements on social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces towards a just and lasting peace."

[Source: By Mart D. Sambalud, Davao Today, Davao City, 18Jun17]

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