Philippine security forces ‘ready and able’ to deal with Maoist insurgents

Philippine security forces ‘ready and able’ to deal with Maoist insurgents. (REUTERS)
Updated 04 December 2017

Philippine security forces ‘ready and able’ to deal with Maoist insurgents

MANILA: Amid a spate of attacks by Maoist rebels, the Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) on Monday stressed that government security forces are ready to defend their country and especially the president of the republic.
DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong, was speaking after former President Fidel V. Ramos expressed his concern over the security situation in the country following Proclamation 360, signed on Nov. 23, which officially terminated peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (NDF-CPP-NPA) rebel groups.
Ramos told the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the military and police must be ready to protect their commander-in-chief, President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Our troops must always be alert to any attack, especially an ambush by the New People’s Army (NPA) in any part of the country, including Metro Manila,” Ramos said, adding that government forces “must be on guard to thwart rebel attacks, especially with the onset of the Christmas season.”
In the days since Duterte signed Proclamation 360, a series of clashes have occurred between government forces and the NPA. The latest fighting occurred in Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato on Sunday afternoon and resulted in the death of two soldiers and four NPA fighters.
Information from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo indicates that the firefight lasted for about an hour.
Also on Sunday, at around 3 a.m., approximately 200 Maoist rebels attacked the Philippine National Police (PNP) station in Binuangan, Misamis Oriental, but were beaten back by police who, according to reports, withstood a “hail of bullets and grenades” in a fight that lasted around three hours. Four policemen were wounded.
On Saturday, a town councilor and a policeman were killed in separate attacks staged by the NPA in the provinces of Cagayan province and Camarines Norte.
The NPA has confirmed that 15 of its fighters were killed last week in a gunbattle with government forces in Nasugbu, Batangas.
Responding to a query from Arab News, Andolong said: “Rest assured, our defenders are always on alert for possible attacks on our people, and most especially the president.”
He added that the NPA are simply following the same path they took even when peace talks were still ongoing and their unilateral cease-fire was in effect.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque echoed that sentiment, saying there is nothing surprising about the atrocities committed by the NPA.
“It’s business as usual,” Roque said in a press conference. “When we were talking peace, they were attacking. Now that we’re not talking peace, they are attacking. So what else is new? It’s continuous attacks from them.”
He added, however, that the AFP is “ready and able to deal with them, as shown in the recent incident in Nasugbu.”
Last week, the president issued a “kill order” against armed communist rebels, and revealed that an executive order is in the works to declare the NPA a terrorist group.
“If there is an armed NPA there, or terrorist, if he’s holding a firearm, shoot,” Duterte told troops. “They will kill you anyway.”
The AFP, meanwhile, said Maoist insurgents have two choices: surrender or be killed.

France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

Updated 19 September 2020

France backs calls for EU sanctions on Turkey

  • Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a ‘double standard’ by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members

JEDDAH: France on Friday backed Cyprus’ calls for the EU to consider imposing tougher sanctions on Turkey if the Turkish government won’t suspend its search for energy reserves in eastern Mediterranean waters where Cyprus and Greece claim exclusive economic rights.

French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune said sanctions should be among the options the 27-member bloc considers employing if Turkey continues to “endanger the security and sovereignty of a member state.”

“But we consider that the union should also be ready to use all the instruments at its disposal, among them one of sanctions, if the situation didn’t evolve positively,” Beaune said after talks with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides in Nicosia.

A European Parliament resolution has called for sanctions against Turkey unless it showed “sincere cooperation and concrete progress” in defusing tensions with Greece and Cyprus.

Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Turkey and now analyst at Carnegie Europe, said the resolution reflected the views of a democratically elected parliament from across the bloc. “This is not ‘country X against country Y,’ it is the aggregated view of the European Parliament,” he told Arab News.

EU leaders are set to hold a summit in a few days to discuss how to respond to Turkey prospecting in areas of the sea that Greece and Cyprus insist are only theirs to explore.

Turkey triggered a naval stand-off with NATO ally Greece after dispatching a warship-escorted research vessel in a part of the eastern Mediterranean that Greece says is over its continental shelf. Greece deployed its own warship and naval patrols in response.

Greek and Turkish military officers are also holding talks at NATO headquarters to work out ways of ensuring that any standoff at sea doesn’t descend into open conflict.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said Turkey’s withdrawal of its survey ship and warship escorts was a positive step, but that Greece needs to make sure Ankara is sincere.

He said a list of sanctions will be put before EU leaders at next week’s summit and whether they’ll be implemented will depend on Turkey’s actions. “I’m hoping that it won’t become necessary to reach that point,” Dendias said.

Cypriot officials insist the EU shouldn’t set a “double standard” by imposing sanctions against Belarus for alleged voter fraud and police brutality while avoiding doing so when Turkey carries on its exploration at the expense of EU members.

Meanwhile, the EU is set to announce sanctions on Monday against three companies from Turkey, Jordan and Kazakhstan which are accused of violating a UN arms embargo on Libya, diplomats told AFP.