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NDF: AFP violated own Christmas truce

MANILA, Philippines - The National Democratic Front (NDF) has accused the military of violating its own ceasefire by deploying additional troops and assets in Southern Mindanao.

Rubi del Mundo, spokesperson of the NDF Southern Mindanao chapter, claimed that additional Army troops were deployed in Davao and North Cotabato even before the government truce took effect last December 21.

“GPH (Government of the Philippines) security forces have not complied with its own ceasefire declaration,” Del Mundo said in a statement issued Tuesday night.
“The GPH’s ceasefire is falsely packaged as more considerate due to its longer timeframe while unfairly scoffing at NPA’s declaration as inadequate and perfunctory. Reports from the field, however, reveal the GPH’s truce as illusory, treacherous and dangerous,” she added.

The government declared a holiday ceasefire with communist rebels that took effect last December 20 and will last until January 15. Before that, the CPP approved a shorter truce to be implemented from December 24 to 26 and from December 31 to January 2.

The NDF Southern Mindanao cited several incidents of troop movements in its statement but did not mention any attack by government forces.

Del Mundo said the Army’s 67th battalion has stationed its armored personnel carrier and two canyons in Compostela town on December 19. She said soldiers have since remained in “active mode” in the area as well as in Trento in Agusan del Sur and Cateel and Boston in Davao Oriental.

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NDF Southern Mindanao also decried the setting up of military checkpoints in barangays Masara and Elizalde in Maco and barangays Andili and Limbo in Mawab, all in Compostela Valley.

Del Mundo said members of the 84th battalion also arrived Monday night in Marahan, Marilog district in Davao City and moved to Barangay Ladayon in Arakan, North Cotabato.

“These instances of forward deployment of the 10th Infantry Division units are duplicitous and offensive maneuvers in guerrilla territories,” the local NDF spokesperson said.

“Reports of additional enemy deployment and enemy offensive actions from the field cannot be referred to as merely routine movements or cannot be dismissed as part of the GPH’s blanket declaration of maintaining their defensive readiness in the protection of our people,” she added.

Del Mundo described the government truce as “an exercise in futility, empty to the core” and “unreliable.”

She said the truce will only be used to “abuse the masses, pursue counter-revolutionary operations and stifle the movement of the populace.”

The military, meanwhile, denied that it violated the truce and claimed that the deployment of soldiers was meant to protect people from security threats.
 
“We declared a suspension of military offensive against NPA but that doesn’t prevent us from peace and development work and active defense of our men and installations,” Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.
 
“Our people must be protected from the possible presence of threats particularly in communist-affected areas in the country. The NPAs have nothing to fear as long as they are not doing criminal activities and leave our communities at peace,” he added.

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