CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – A leader of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) has asked the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to remain calm amid reports of ceasefire violations allegedly perpetrated by the New People’s Army (NPA), the CPP’s armed wing.
“I am calling on both parties, especially the government, to remain calm and sober as the truce is in effect,” said IFI Bishop Felixberto Calang who is also convenor of the peace group, Sowing the Seeds of Peace in Mindanao.
In a text message Friday (Dec. 27), Calang appealed to both parties to honor the unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire they have respectively declared.
The NPA has allegedly violated the ceasefire following the attacks last Dec. 23, when the CPP declaration started and took effect.
According to reports, government forces engaged the Communist rebels in Barangay Baay, Labo, Camarines Norte where an Army soldier was killed and six others were wounded.
The same day, in Barangay Singon, Tubungan, Iloilo province, two police officers were injured after an engagement with the NPA fighters.
However, in a statement released by the NPA-Bicol Region on Dec. 24, it criticized the military’s “synchronized attacks” hours after the Duterte government and the CPP declared a unilateral and reciprocal ceasefire.
“Ngayong araw, binigo ng mga pulang mandirigma ng Armando Catapia Command-BHB Camarines Norte ang pagkubkob ng mga elemento ng 92nd DRC, alas-10 ng umaga, sa Brgy. Baay, Labo, Camarines Norte,” said Raymundo Buenfuerza of NPA’s Romulo Jallores Command.
The said barangay, Jallores added, is in the middle of the forest of Mt. Labo and is about 10 kilometers from the nearest camp of the military’s 902nd Brigade.
Meanwhile, Ariston Remus of Napoleon Tumagtang Command-NPA admitted of harassing the PNP’s 1st Provincial Mobile Force (PMF) using a “command detonated explosive.”
“Itong aksyong militar ng NPA kaparte pa ng kontra-opensibang hakbang sa limang araw na, na pagpang-atake ng PNP at ng AFP sa teritoryo ng People’s Revolutionary Government simula pa noong Disyembre 19,” Remus said.
The NPA spokesman added that the PNP implemented Oplan Galugad and sent over 100 troops from the composite unit of the 1st PMF and the Regional Mobile Battalion from Janiuay, Iloilo.
Hope for the peace talks
Calang hopes the said incidents will not hinder the resumption of peace talks, as he added “there is a joint monitoring committee to investigate violations.”
The IFI has welcomed the 15-day ceasefire “with much jubilation” and the revival of peace negotiations between the Duterte government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
As Christians, he said, the continuation of the negotiations is a “time to deepen our faith in Jesus as the Prince of Peace. The liberation of God’s people from oppression and injustice was at the core of Jesus’ ministry for peace.”
Balay Mindanaw has also expressed its optimism to the peace talks.
“We hope that this becomes an irreversible step towards the transformation of this decades-old armed conflict as the two Parties resume their work in addressing the roots of the conflict,” said Charlito Manlupig, Balay Mindanaw founder and president, in a recent statement. (davaotoday.com)