NDFP asks NPA to 'refrain' from attacking gov't forces

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 17) — The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is asking the New People's Army in Mindanao to "refrain" from attacking government forces.

The rebels should focus instead on helping troops flush out terrorists, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said in a statement Saturday.

He said the NDFP, the organization of the revolutionary movement, has recommended to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to give this order to the NPA. 

The NDFP also called on the government to order the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to reciprocate this move and order its forces to refrain from carrying out offensives against the NPA.

This is "for all forces to be able to concentrate" against terror groups such as the Maute, Abu Sayyaf, and Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines, Agcaoili said.

It has been nearly a month since clashes between government forces and the terrorists broke out in Marawi City, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law throughout Mindanao.

The NDFP earlier heeded Duterte's call to help fight terrorists in Marawi by directing NPA units "to redeploy for the purpose of mopping-up, holding, and blocking operations."

It also instructed its ally in Marawi, the Moro Resistance and Liberation Organization, "to assume home defense tasks against the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups."

Also read: Communist rebels deploying NPA fighters in Marawi

The NDFP on Saturday reiterated its call for a localized casefire.

"The NDFP is ready to discuss and agree in detail with the GRP on how ceasefire, coordination and cooperation can be achieved in Marawi City by both forces unilaterally keeping safe distances between each other," the NDFP said.

The government and the rebels were supposed to discuss a ceasefire agreement on May 27, but the government suspended the negotiations. The government cited as reason the communists' pronouncement they will intensify attacks against government forces amid the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

In February, Duterte said he also considers the armed communists as terrorists, saying they "were killing his soldiers" and violating a unilateral ceasefire they had earlier declared.

He then lifted the government's unilateral ceasefire, after soldiers were killed in a series of armed clashes.

The CPP has waged a 48-year-old insurgency, the longest-running armed rebellion in Asia.