PGMA orders teightening of security in AFP and PNP camps, buildings vs. violators of gov't ceasefire
Manila (18 December) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered today the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to tightly secure their troops, camps and buildings against rebels who refuse to honor the 22-day unilateral Christmas ceasefire that began last Sunday.
In her opening statement during the National Security Council (NSC)- Cabinet Group Executive Committee meeting held at Malacanang's Ramos Music Room, the President also expressed her condolences to the families of the three unarmed Marines ambushed and killed by New People's Army (NPA) rebels while on their way to market in San Vicente town in Palawan last Sunday.
"My countrymen, I join you in condoling with the three Marines killed by NPA in spite of the fact that they were unarmed due to the declaration by the government and the AFP of the unilateral Christmas ceasefire," the President said in Filipino.
"As your commander-in-chief," the President said, "I am instructing the military and the police to tightly secure their troops, camps and buildings against rebels who take advantage of the ceasefire."
"We are all Filipinos--- whether you are a Muslim or Christian, with the government or rebel, we must not lose this opportunity for peace, security and prosperity—under one flag, one Constitution and one Republic," the President stressed.
On Sunday, some 20 communist rebels violated the 22-day Christmas truce the government declared unilaterally when they ambushed the three unarmed Marines.
Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, who was in the meeting in Malacanang, said the military would implement the ceasefire but this would not prevent them from pursuing the killers of the three Marines.
At the same time, the President said she convened the NSC-Cabinet Group today to discuss measures that would lead to the achievement of long-lasting peace in Mindanao.
Plans to finalize a peace pact between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) failed anew last week in Kuala Lumpur due to the ticklish issue on ancestral domain.
Government Chief Negotiator Rodolfo Garcia was at the NSC-Cabinet Executive Group meeting today to give an update on the peace process and find means to resolve misunderstandings between the two panels on the issue of ancestral domain. (OPS) [top]