By SHERWIN DE VERA
VIGAN CITY — The New People’s Army (NPA) command in the Ilocos and Cordillera Regions declared support and adherence to the unilateral truce announced by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on December 22.
“The New People’s Army (NPA) – Ilocos Cordillera command fully supports and will strictly adhere to the directive of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) for a nationwide ceasefire from 12 AM of December 23, 2019, to 11:59 PM of January 7, 2020,” said Martin Montana, spokesperson of the NPA’s Chadli Molintas Command
According to him, communist guerillas in the region support the holiday truce “in keeping spirit with the Filipino Christian tradition of celebrating the Christmas Holidays.”
“More importantly, the ceasefire period offers a favorable atmosphere for the revolutionaries and masses in the Ilocos-Cordillera region in the various production efforts of the communities to recover from consecutive natural calamities in 2019,” he added.
The rebel leader ordered all NPA units and militias in the region to “cease and desist from launching offensive military operations” against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU). However, he said red fighters would remain inactive defense and should be prepared to counter actions of government forces against the revolutionary forces and “within territories of the people’s democratic government.” He also ordered all NPA and militia units to report ceasefire violations committed.
Montana noted that red fighters should thwart armed attacks, intelligence operations, civil-military operations, and intrusion of government troops in rebel areas. NPA defensive actions include defense against “combat operations disguised as operations to serve arrest warrants to individuals” in their areas of operations. Criminal elements entering guerilla zones are also subject to “appropriate action by the concerned unit of the NPA and people’s militia in the area.”
“Unarmed personnel of the AFP-PNP-CAFGU who have not committed any crime against the people and the revolutionary movement and who wish to enter the territory of the people’s democratic government to make personal visits to relatives and friends will not be arrested nor subjected to any punitive action,” he guaranteed.
President Duterte reciprocated the unilateral ceasefire declared earlier by the CPP. The truce from the government came despite public pronouncement by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año that they do not agree to a Christmas ceasefire with the NPA.
No ceasefire violations
Meanwhile, military officials raised alleged ceasefire violations by the NPA after two clashes erupted in Bicol and Iloilo on December 23.
Communist guerillas ambushed troops from the 92nd Division Reconnaissance Company (92DRC) while on patrol in Labo, Camarines Norte, killing a soldier and wounding six others. In Tubungan, Iloilo suspected NPA fighters injured two members of the 1st Iloilo Mobile Force Company after a command donated explosive hit their vehicle.
In both instances, AFP and PNP officials admitted that their men were in combat operations. The officials claimed the troops were pulling out in response to the issuance of Suspension of Military Operations (SOMO).
However, in a statement dated December 24, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said that they have yet to receive copies of the SOMO and SOPO (Suspension of Police Operations).
He also clarified that the NPA did not violate the unilateral ceasefire, noting that both incidents “were defensive actions by the NPA units involved in the face of armed attacks and sustained military operations by the AFP and the PNP.”
Agcaoili also pointed out that the unilateral ceasefire only holds “on the basis of a mutual agreement as reflected in the ceasefire order of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).”
Meanwhile, Mayor Sara Duterte urged Malacañang to exclude Davao City from the holiday truce with the NPA. She said that rebels would utilize the period to recover communities and consolidate their forces. # nordis.net