New People’s Army ( file photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The New People’s Army cited the Army’s “encroachment” of the areas under the revolutionary government as a reason why it decided to terminate its unilateral ceasefire effective on February 10.

The NPA said government troops are operating in more than 500 villages, more than 164 municipalities and 43 provinces in the country.

In Mindanao, the NPA said the Army occupies 64 towns and cities in 12 provinces. A number of these towns are located in Bukidnon province with 11 towns and cities; Sultan Kudarat with seven municipalities, Agusan del Sur with seven towns and cities; Agusan del Norte with six towns and cities; and Surigao del Sur with nine towns and cities.

In Davao Region, the NPA said the Army operates in six towns and cities including Davao City, Magsaysay and Matan-ao towns in Davao del Sur, Lupon in Davao Oriental, and Mabini and Montevista towns in Compostela Valley Province.

The Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA’s National Operations Command announced earlier today its termination of the unilateral ceasefire effective February 10 at 11:59 pm.

The unilateral ceasefire was declared last August 28, 2016.

Ka Oris, NPA spokesman said the unilateral ceasefire was “taken advantage” by the government troops to “encroach” their territories.

“The suspension of military operations (SOMO) and suspension of police operations (SOPO) issued by the AFP and PNP as basis of the GRP’s unilateral declaration of interim ceasefire have served as license for its armed troops, police personnel, paramilitary units and death squads to engage in hostile actions, provocations or movements, surveillance and other offensive operations that are labelled as “peace and development”, “civil-military”, “peace and order”, “anti drugs campaign,” “medical missions” or ‘law enforcement,’” Ka Oris said.

The NPA said it maneuvered its forces to avoid skirmish with the government troops who were on “offensive operations.”

“In clear violation of the spirit of the reciprocal ceasefire declarations, the AFP has forward deployed its units against the NPA across the country. On January 21, a firefight broke out as the AFP waged offensive operations against an NPA platoon in Makilala, North Cotabato, resulting in eight soldiers killed. An NPA Red fighter was martyred,” Ka Oris added.

No NPA area

However, the Department of National Defense in a statement said they do not recognize any area under NPA control.

“We do not recognize any areas under NPA control nor are they allowed to roam around with their firearms intimidating people,” it said.

“If the CPP-NPA will terminate or stop their unilateral ceasefire it is up to them. It will not affect the AFP,” the DND said.

The Army would continue to enforce the unilateral ceasefire of the government while awaiting instruction from the President.

“Our troops will not actively operate against the NPA while our ceasefire is in effect. However, it will continue to maintain peace and order and run after lawless elements whoever they are,” the DND said.

It added that even while the CPP and NPA declared a unilateral ceasefire “they have not stopped extorting under the guise of their so-called revolutionary taxation, went on recruiting, burning buses and equipment, ambushing and kidnapping soldiers.”

Major Ezra Balagtey, Public Information Officer of the Eastern Mindanao Command told Davao Today in an interview that the attacks and burning of equipment contradict the spirit of the peace negotiations.

“Sana di tayo magresort to attacks dahil after all ang gusto natin ay kapayapaan. Yung pag-atake, pagsusunog is contrary to the spirit of peace talks that we want to achieve,” he said.

Balagtey said the AFP is also on the defensive mode and all troops are on alert for possible skirmishes.(With a report from Earl O. Condeza/

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