Residents look at the collapsed portion of a bridge in Surigao hours after a powerful earthquake rocked Surigao del Norte province Saturday, Feb.11, 2017 in southern Philippines. The late Friday quake with a magnitude of 6.5 roused residents from sleep in the province, sending hundreds to flee their homes.
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Palace hopes Reds will honor ceasefire in quake-hit areas
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - February 13, 2017 - 5:03pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang welcomed on Monday the New People's Army's (NPA) decision to declare a unilateral ceasefire in areas affected by the earthquake and is hopeful that the rebels would not violate it so that the delivery of relief would not be disrupted.

"We are glad that the NPA heeded the call of the military for a ceasefire in earthquake-affected areas.  We welcome their declaration and hope they do not renege on it as they have previously done," Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.

"The Armed Forces of the Philippines is presently conducting damage assessment and rescue, evacuation and rehabilitation activities.  These should be continuous and remain unhampered so we can deliver immediate aid to the victims of this natural calamity," he added.

President Rodrgo Duterte scrapped the peace negotiations with the communists after the rebels had demanded the release of more than 400 of their comrades whom they claim to be political prisoners.

Duterte rejected the demand, prompting the communists to call off the unilateral ceasefire and launch offensives against government forces. The president responded by calling the communist rebels "terrorists."

Duterte, however, was calmer on Sunday when he said that the issue with the rebels would be resolved in due time "because this is no longer about ideology but about the Filipino people."

Andanar said all sectors should unite in helping the survivors of the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that hit Surigao City.

"The Government and its forces lean forward to provide the fastest and most expeditious assistance our suffering citizens in Surigao need at this time and distractions from criminal activities by armed groups would not be in their best interest," he added.

The NPA declared a unilateral ceasefire in Surigao del Norte and the towns of Cabadbaran, Tubay, Jabonga and Santiago in Agusan del Norte to allow the delivery of assistance to communities affected by the earthquake.

The ceasefire took effect on February 11 and will end at 11:55 p.m. of February 20.

"This ceasefire is being declared to give the Red fighters of the NPA in Front 16, all government agencies, including the police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and non-government organizations, the opportunity to inspect the areas affected, especially the mountain areas, for damages resulting from the earthquake," said Ariel Montero, spokesman of the NPA North Eastern Mindanao regional command, in a statement.

"Above all, this declaration of ceasefire is to enable the delivery of immediate aid to the masses and for them to be given assistance towards the rehabilitation of their damaged properties and livelihood," he added.

Montero is hopeful that the ceasefire declaration would be reciprocated by the military and the police.

CEASEFIRE COMMUNISM EARTHQUAKE NEW PEOPLE'S ARMY SURIGAO CITY
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