DAVAO CITY – The New People’s Army’s Northern Central Mindanao Command is paving the way for the release of two soldiers they held captive since August this year amidst separate ceasefire declarations of the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Allan Juanito, spokesperson of NPA-NCMR said they would release Privates First Class Marnel Cinches and Jerrel Yorong “any day within the ceasefire period pending the release order of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.”

Cinches and Yorong, both soldiers under the Philippine Army’s 8th Infantry Battalion were captured by elements of the NPA 5pm of August 22 in the wet market of Barangay Buntungon, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.

In a statement last December 17, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines declared a unilateral ceasefire for the Christmas season but only on specific dates:12:01 am of December 24, 2014 to 11:59 pm of December 26, 2014 and 12:01 am of December 31, 2014 to 11:59 pm of January 1, 2015.

The CPP also declared ceasefire for the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines and set date 12:01 am of January 15, 2015 to 11:59 pm ofJanuary 19, 2015 as its own ceasefire.

“During the aforementioned days, all units of the New People’s Army and people’s militia are ordered to desist from carrying out offensive operations against units and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and the various armed paramilitary groups attached to the Government of the Philippines (GPH),” said the CPP.

However, the CPP also said that “(w)hile this ceasefire declaration is in effect, all units of the NPA and the people’s militia shall remain in active defense mode.”

“All commanders, Red fighters and militia should remain ever vigilant and alert against the treacherous encroachment of operating military troops and police personnel of the GPH into the territories of the people’s democratic government,” the CPP said.

In news reports, President Benigno Aquino III declared the government’s own ceasefire based on the recommendation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) last December 16.

AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr said the government’s ceasefire will be in effect “Dec. 18 to midnight of Jan. 19, 2015” but in the same report also said that the AFP’s “humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations would continue.”

In a separate statement, Ka Oris, spokesperson NDF-Mindanao said that the “Community Organizing for Peace and Development (COPD), the Peace and Development Teams (PDT) or Reengineered Special Operations Team (RSOT) is no less a target of NPA units” as they are “concrete programs of the Civil-Military Operations (CMO) of the AFP.”

“The  CMO or COPD is the psywar operations that pave the way for intelligence and combat operations and is therefore part of offensive operations,” said Ka Oris.

“And since COPD is quite expansive in the countryside all over Mindanao, it only follows that military battles shall also be widespread and intense in the island even during the SOMO-SOPO period. There is nothing else to blame for this but the psywar tactics of the AFP,” he said. (davaotoday.com)

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