Mario B. Casayuran
August 17, 2011
MANILA, Philippines — To show sincerity in pursuing peace, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan urged Wednesday the national government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) to immediately declare a ceasefire.
“Both sides cannot hope to talk peace while relentless attacks and clashes repeatedly occur in various parts of the nation,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan stressed that a ceasefire and a truce must be seriously considered as a means to give way to formal talks.
He said that the insurgency in the Philippines has dragged on for decades and cost hundreds of thousands of lives, including innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.
Continued armed conflict has also drained the nation’s coffers of funds that should have been allocated to basic social services for Filipinos, he said
Pangilinan said that no progressive nation became prosperous while facing armed conflict.
“A declaration of ceasefire could pave the way to the development of war-torn areas in the country. This would solve the number one cause of insurgency — poverty,’’ he said.
“The peace initiatives during the Ramos presidency gave rise to highly developed cities such as General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, and Davao City. Who’s to say the same cannot happen again?” he said.
Meanwhile, at least four soldiers were slain in two consecutive tactical offensives launched by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Aurora on August 12 and 13.
In an official report, Rowena Servante, spokeswoman of the NPA-Domingo Erlano Command (NPA-DEC) in the province, said the fatalities belonged to 48th Infantry Battalion stationed at Barangay Diteki, San Luis town.
The provincial NPA spokeswoman claimed the operations were launched in response to alleged abuses committed by soldiers securing the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (APECO) being pushed by the Angara family.
She said the attacks belied the military claim that the NPA has been decimated in Aurora.
Servante revealed the NPA guerrillas attacked 20 soldiers who had occupied the barangay hall at 11:15 p.m. and followed it up with an ambush of a truckload of troopers led by 1st Lt. Moreno at 9:10 a.m. the following day.
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