MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte's latest call for New People's Army (NPA) fighters to lay down their arms and live normal lives shows his determination to resolve the country's long-running insurgency peacefully, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Friday.
"The President’s latest call for the NPA fighters to lay down their arms, return to society, and live normal lives only shows that he is giving the NPA every chance at achieving a peaceful resolution to the longstanding armed conflict," Lorenzana said in a statement.
Duterte pledged to give homes and livelihoods to every rebel willing to surrender and reintegrate himself into society.
"He has offered homes and livelihood to every NPA fighter that returns to the fold of the law. Buong pusong binibigyan ng Pangulo ang mga NPA ng pagkakataon na magbago at mabuhay nang marangal. His offer to accommodate members of the communist movement shows his sincerity," Lorenzana added.
The defense chief said they are delighted to note that a number of NPAs have accepted the offer and are now starting to live normal lives.
"We reiterate our call for the NPA to stop all their illegal activities, return to the fold of the law, and be part of the real change that the President has spearheaded for the betterment of our country and the lives of our people," Lorenzana said.
As of Oct. 19, continuous military operations have also led to the neutralization of 609 NPA rebels. Of this number, 121 were killed in operations, 71 were arrested, while 417 surrendered. A total of 331 high- and low-powered firearms were either surrendered or recovered from the rebels.
The military has recorded 242 incidents of NPA atrocities since the scrapping of peace talks in February. It said that communist rebels had perpetrated 20 violent activities in January alone. (PNA)