Army’s 7ID open to dialogue with rebels but ready to protect people

FORT RAMON MAGSAYSAY, Palayan City –The Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division (7ID) which holds jurisdiction over Central and portions of north Luzon keeps its table open for dialogue with “local constituents and with rebels,” amid the termination of ceasefire.

This, as the 7ID led by its commander Major Gen. Angelito de Leon, distributed Wednesday some PHP807,000 in Comprehensive Local Integration Program (Clip) benefits to 10 former New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, according to Catherine Hapin, 7ID public affairs chief.

Hapin said the declaration of ceasefire has paved the way for the surrender of at least 19 rebels, most of them are now CLIP beneficiaries.

“The same will be offered to rebels who will follow suit,” she said, saying the command welcomes dialogues with its local constituents and with rebels “who would like to grab the opportunity for a new and more peaceful life.’

“The division (7ID) calls them now, while they still have time,” Hapin said.

The call was made by 7ID on Friday as it declared a focused military operations “from this point onwards,” referring to the abrupt termination of the unilateral ceasefire.

In a statement, 7ID also expressed regret over the termination of peace talks.

“It is unfortunate that the peace talks that have run for almost six months should come to a halt because the rebels chose to use violence,” it reads.

“The 7ID will conduct focused military operations that will actively protect the communities and flagship projects of the government”, it added.