MALOLOS, Bulacan—President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday expressed disappointment over the failure of security measures to prevent the New People’s Army (NPA) from attacking mining companies in Mindanao.
Asked if there should be a ceasefire before peace talks with the communist rebels resume, Mr. Aquino said he was leaving it up to the government’s peace panel to deal with the National Democratic Front.
The President, nonetheless, took the opportunity to take a swipe at the communist rebels saying the attacks have resulted in 5,000 to 6,000 workers facing a bleak Christmas as their jobs were placed in jeopardy.
“Well, we leave it up to the peace panel. They are actively engaging the CPP-NPA-NDF in a dialogue, in a continuing dialogue,” Mr. Aquino said when asked about the effects of the attacks on his administration’s peace initiatives.
“At the same time, I have instructed our security forces that I was not happy with their performance in this particular incident,” he added.
Relieved from posts
The President said “the potential for risk” in the attacks “was very evident.”
“To that end, many were relieved from their posts. The state added security forces and corrective actions are being undertaken,” he said.
“I’m looking for explanations from our comrades in uniform for their movements and their lack of movement,” he added.
Asked if there was a need for a ceasefire, Mr. Aquino said the NPA was asking for a suspension of military and police operations for it to effect the release of a mayor in Mindanao.
“From what I understand from (Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin), the area they are asking for (where military and police operations should be suspended) is too large. If we can limit the area, then why not? But it cuts both ways. If they attack, our (forces) would defend and pursue those who commit acts of violence,” Mr. Aquino said.