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AFP, NPA accuse each other of violating ceasefire

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 20, 2015 - 6:56pm

MANILA, Philippines - The ceasefire between the government and communist rebels ended Tuesday midnight with the two sides accusing each other of violating the truce.

The government suspended military offensives from December 18 to January 19 as a goodwill measure for the peace talks with the communists.

The Communist Party of the Philippines also implemented a ceasefire, albeit a staggered one, from December 24-26, from December 31 to January 1 and from January 15-19.

As in previous years, the military and the New People’s Army (NPA), the communist rebels’ armed wing, traded allegations of ceasefire violations.

Maj. Ezra Balagtey, spokesman of the Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command, said the NPA violated its own truce when it harassed a patrol base in Lupon, Davao Oriental on January 18.  

He also accused communist rebels of planting a landmine and deploying snipers along San Isidro-Mahaba Road in Surigao del Norte on December 26.

“They reciprocated the government month-long SOMO (suspension of offensive military operations with atrocities and even violated their piecemeal SOMO,” Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad said.

Communist rebels, for their part, called the month-long government ceasefire a “farce.”

The National Democratic Front Mindanao Chapter said soldiers occupied several parts of Davao City, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, North Cotabato and Agusan del Sur during the truce.

“The presence of the troops in these areas does not appear to be risk-free, undisruptive or inoffensive, but comprises actual offensive maneuvers within and in the periphery of guerrilla territories,” NDF Mindanao Chapter spokesperson Jorge Madlos said in a statement.

“Their blatant occupation of civilian areas while supposedly in suspended military operations is highly provocative and increases the risk of armed engagements with the Red fighters amid civilian-populated areas,” he added. 

The military, however, maintained that it did not violate the ceasefire. Armed Forces spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said the deployment of troops is part of their efforts to secure communities against armed groups.

Balagtey said the NPA committed at least seven other atrocities while the government ceasefire was in effect. These include the ambush in Compostela Valley last Dec. 29 that left three government troopers, including a young lieutenant, dead.

Clashes resume

Soldiers and NPA members engaged in a firefight in Camarines Norte hours after the lifting of the suspension of offensives.

Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command spokesman Maj. Angelo Guzman said the clash happened at 10:35 a.m. at Barangay Scout Fuentebella in Goa town. No fatality was reported from  both sides.

Security forces recovered an M16 rifle, a rifle grenade, an improvised explosive device and three backpacks from the encounter site.

“Troops are still on the ground conducting clearing and pursuit operations,” said Col. Amador Tabuga, chief of the Army’s 902nd brigade.

AMADOR TABUGA ANGELO GUZMAN ARMED ARMED FORCES ARMED FORCES EASTERN MINDANAO COMMAND ARMED FORCES EASTERN MINDANAO COMMAND LT ARMED FORCES SOUTHERN LUZON COMMAND AURELIO BALADAD COMPOSTELA VALLEY DAVAO ORIENTAL
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