Ka Oris

Ka Oris, spokesperson of the NPA’s National Operational Command (davaotoday.com file photo)

DAVAO CITY —   The National Operational Command of the New People’s Army has ordered all units and commands of the NPA to stay in “active defense mode” as it welcomes the declaration of the unilateral ceasefire by President Rodrigo Duterte during his State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 25.

In an emailed statement, Ka Oris, spokesperson of the NPA’s National Operational Command said the order includes all units of the people’s militias.

Ka Oris said that being on active defense mode, “the NPA is preparing for a reciprocal unilateral ceasefire declaration by the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to be issued soon as a boost for the upcoming NDFP-GRP peace talks.”

“An exchange of unilateral ceasefire declarations will be one of the first items in the resumption of NDFP-GRP peace talks scheduled for August 20-27 with the aim of making these unilateral declarations effective,” he said.

Duterte declared a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP  in a bid to provide an environment suitable for the resumption of peace talks.

“To immediately stop violence on the ground, restore peace in the communities and provide an enabling environment conducive to the resumption of the peace talks, I am now announcing a unilateral ceasefire with the CPP/NPA/NDF effective immediately and call on our (fellow) Filipinos in the National Democratic Front and its forces to respond accordingly,” Duterte said during the SONA.

In his letter to Secretary Silvestre Bello III, chairman of the Negotiating Panel of the Government of the Philippines, NDF Negotiating Panel Chairperson Luis Jalandoni said the NDFP “would study it carefully and make the appropriate response.”

He said they assume that the ceasefire declaration of the GRP “is necessarily connected with the release of all current political prisoners under the amnesty proclamation to be issued by the President Duterte and concurred in by a majority of Congress, as referred to by the Oslo Joint Statement of June 15, 2016.”

Army stops offensive operations

The Army’s 10th Infantry Division has also ordered all its units to stop all offensive operations against the NPA effective immediately.

Army spokesman Capt. Rhyan Batchar said in a statement: “We have ordered our line units to stop all offensive operations against the NPA effective immediately without sacrificing the security and safety of our troops and the security of all vital facilities, installations and population center.”

He said they support the President’s call for unity and peace.

NPA to observe gov’t implementation of ceasefire

Ka Oris said they will “closely observe” how  the Army carries out the declaration of ceasefire and “whether there will be a clear termination of military operations and offensives being carried out under the US-designed Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency war of suppression.”

“As of this morning, reports from the field indicate that units of the AFP have remained stationed in communities and have yet to withdraw from their offensive operations in Isabela, Cagayan, Bulacan, Quezon and Batangas, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Samar, Surigao, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur and other provinces,” he said.

‘Intensified military operations’

Ka Oris said prior to yesterday’s unilateral ceasefire declaration by Duterte, they observed that the “has been carrying out intensified combat and patrol operations, reconnaissance and intelligence activities, occupation of civilian communities and attacks against human rights.”

“Prior to the Duterte unilateral ceasefire declaration, the AFP intensified military offensives in Mindanao. The AFP sought to defeat the NPA nationwide by defeating it here in Mindanao. It has been a distinct feature of Oplan Bayanihan that 60 percent of the AFP’s battalions, air assets and war equipment are deployed in Mindanao,” he said.

He said they will continue “defending the rural communities and the environment,” until an order is issued by their higher organs.

For now, he said, they will be vigilant and defend against offensives from the Army, police and militia groups.

He also said the NPA  will continue to arrest and disarm big drug traffickers and police and military protectors and operators.

“The NPA will continue to conduct educational, political and cultural campaigns to mobilize the people to assert their rights and advance their struggle for genuine land reform,”said Ka Oris. (davaotoday.com)

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