MANILA The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continuously recruits new members, which is a regular military function even during a standdown, as it is mandated to protect the country from all forms of threats, a Defense official said.
"When the AFP is ordered (to) standdown, it ceases conducting active military operations but its humanitarian and assistance and disaster relief missions still continue, along with its intelligence gathering. Those do not stop and recruitment is intrinsic for the AFP as we are building our forces, (which) is part of our modernization," Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in Filipino last Wednesday.
Andolong made the statement when asked about reports from rebel supporters claiming that if they are not allowed to recruit new members in the event of a ceasefire or standdown, the same should be applied to the AFP.
"When we do a standdown, (our concept is that) you also have to cease extortion activities. You have to cease destruction of private and public properties," he said.
The agreement signed by representatives of the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the PhilippinesNew People's ArmyNational Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPPNPANDFP) in Utrecht, the Netherlands last June 8, defined standdown as a temporary cessation of hostilities in which the contending armed units and personnel of the Parties stay where they are ('as is where is'), take an active defense mode, and shall not commit any offensive action or operation against combatants and civilians.
The agreement was set to take effect on June 21, a week ahead of the resumption of peace talks on June 28.
Last week, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza announced that the government is not yet ready to resume formal peace talks with the rebels, saying the public would be engaged more in the peace process. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency