Communist Party declares separate holiday ceasefire

The New People’s Army. (File photo by Medel V. Hernani / davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) ordered its armed wing to temporarily suspend combat operations, days after the government declared a separate version of their ceasefire.

Effective Saturday night, December 23, the CPP’s Central Committee told the New People’s Army (NPA) to cease from carrying out offensive operations against soldiers, police and paramilitary forces attached to the government.

The ceasefire order, in particular, covers the following periods:

  • December 23 (6 pm) to December 26 (6pm)

  • December 30 (6pm) to January 2, 2018 (6 pm)

The CPP said the ceasefire order “is being issued in solidarity with the Filipino people’s celebration of traditional holidays.”
However, the CPP clarified that the ceasefire does not cover fighting against government’s “death squads.”

NPA to remain active in defense
It added that while the unilateral ceasefire is in effect, all units of the NPA and their “people’s militia” will remain in active defense position.

“All commands and units of the NPA and the people’s militia shall be in full alert and should be ready to repel offensive combat operations, PDT/COPD operations, surveillance and other hostile acts by the GRP’s regular and paramilitary armed forces. Active self-defense shall be undertaken in the face of clear and imminent danger,” the CPP said.

Jorge Madlos, the NPA’s spokesperson, said government soldiers who have “no serious liabilities other than their membership in their armed units” will not be subjected to arrest or punitive actions.

“They may be allowed individually to enter the territory of the people’s democratic government to make personal visits to relatives and friends,” he said.

Madlos, also known as Ka Oris, said, they will also monitor any hostile action, provocation or movement of the government troops.

“All NPA units shall maintain a high degree of alertness and preparation against any hostile actions or movements by enemy armed forces, similar to what transpired during the six-month unilateral ceasefires last year wherein the AFP occupied and forward deployed troops in at least 500 barrios nationwide, committing numerous human rights violations against civilians and their communities,” he said.

The Party previously declared a unilateral ceasefire in August 2017, which lasted until February 10, 2017.

Malacañang on Friday welcomed this development, as it was expecting the communists to honor their ceasefire declaration.

“Rest assured that the government will remain vigilant in ensuring the safety of our countrymen. May we all stand together in fulfilling our shared desire of achieving lasting peace throughout the nation,” said Harry Roque, Malacañang’s spokesperson.

President Rodrigo Duterte declared a suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) against the communists on Tuesday, December 19.

The government’s unilateral ceasefire with the NPA will be from 6pm of December 23 to 11:59 pm of December 26 and from 6pm of December 30 until 11:59 pm of January 2.

The CPP is set to commemorate its 49th founding anniversary on December 26.

The ceasefire, however, does not lift the declaration of the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations under Presidential Proclamation No. 374, Roque added. (davaotoday.com)