Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Palace condemns attacks by rebels in Surigao

Malacañang condemned on Tuesday the attacks by suspected members of the New People’s Army on mining firms in Surigao del Norte vowing to use the full force of the law in prosecuting and bringing to justice those who perpetrated the crime.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters in a briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, however that the government would remain on track in its pursuit of peace with the rebel groups.

“We condemn the atrocities. We condemn the violence. But peace is a better alternative to war that is why we are committed to the peace process,” Lacierda said.

“We will continue our efforts to pursue the peace negotiations because that is, we believe, the better option,” he added.

Lacierda said that upon learning of the incident at around noon on Monday, the President immediately convened a meeting with the Cabinet cluster concerned with security.

He said the President ordered Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to conduct a threat assessment as well as a review on operational procedures “in order to identify vulnerable targets…by the CPP-NPA-NDF.”

“So that is one way of making sure that we are in touch with the community and we’ll be able to identify the different threat assessments. Nonetheless, having the threat assessment, we are going to make sure that will provide security to the vulnerable areas,” Lacierda said.

He called on the leadership of the NPA to “exercise restraint” and work with government in order to attain peace.

“So this is the firm commitment of our government, of our administration: we will defend our people and they can be certain that will not stop at prosecuting and going after the rebels,” Lacierda said.

“We call on the CPP-NDF-NPA leadership to exercise restraint and to call on their troops to exercise restraint as part of confidence-building measures towards the peace process,” he said.

Suspected members of the NPA attacked three mining firms: Nickel Asia Corporation, Platinum Metals Group and THPAL Mining Company; all located in Claver, Surigao del Norte.

According to reports, the rebels, numbering some 200, burned down a total of 10 dump trucks, eight backhoes, two barges and a guesthouse. They also seized several guns from private security guards and smashed computers in site offices.

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