CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Members of the New People’s Army (NPA) are observing the unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire being declared by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), but they won’t hesitate to engage state forces if attacked, a spokesperson of the New People’s Army (NPA) said Thursday (Dec. 26).
“We will not initiate any offensive [operations during the ceasefire], but if the AFP will make a move, we will respond,” said Sandara Sidlakan, NPA spokesperson for Agusan del Norte, who spoke to reporters on the phone on the occasion of the CPP’s 51st anniversary Thursday.
Sidlakan also reiterated the stand of the CPP-NPA that there were no ceasefire violations committed by the Maoist insurgents against the security forces in Labo town, Camarines Norte and in the municipality of Tubungan in Iloilo on Dec. 23, the first day of the 15-day holiday ceasefire.
In its Dec. 24 post on the Phil. Revolution Web Central website, the CPP said those encounters were “defensive actions by the NPA units involved in the face of armed attacks and sustained military operations by the AFP and the PNP (special operations unit),” as attested to in separate statements issued by the NPA Bicol’s Romulo Jallores Command and the Napoleon Tumagtang Command of the NPA in Southern Panay.
Phil. Army’s Maj. Gen. Fernando Trinidad, commander of Joint Task Force Bicolandia, considered the attack against soldiers in Barangay Baay, Labo, as a “treacherous act” by the NPA and a violation of the holiday ceasefire.
One Army soldier was killed and six others were wounded in that encounter in Baay.
For his part, Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa, acting Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, said the encounter in Barangay Singon, Tubungan, was “probably the first atrocity that has happened despite the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire.”
Two police officers were wounded in that attack that targeted the PNP’s 1st Iloilo Mobile Force Company.
Sidlakan said they have welcomed the pronouncement of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to resume the stalled peace negotiations, but hopes that the government is serious in reviving the talks with the Communist insurgents.
“We hope the government will make good on its promise this time, especially on the implementation of agrarian reform,” she added.(davaotoday.com)