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Reds announce ceasefire for Christmas, CPP anniversary

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Reds announce ceasefire for Christmas, CPP anniversary

In this file photo taken on Dec. 26, 2010, members of the communist New Peoples Army have their faces painted to hide their identity during the celebration of the 42nd anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines at Mt. Diwata in southern Philippines. AP Photo/Pat Roque, File

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 11:34 a.m.) — The New People's Army will observe a unilateral ceasefire "in observance of the Filipino people’s traditional holidays and the Communist Party of the Philippines' 49th anniversary" on December 26.
 
According to a statement issued by Jorge "Ka Oris" Madlos, NPA spokesman, on the Philippine Revolution Web Central website, the ceasefire has been declared under the direction of the CPP's central committee and the NPA's National Operational Command. The ceasefire order applies "to all commands and units of the NPA and the people’s militia."
 
"This unilateral declaration of ceasefire shall be in effect from 6 p.m. of December 23 to 6 p.m. of December 26; and 6 p.m. of December 30 to 6 p.m. of January 2, 2018," Madlos said.
 
"During this period, all NPA units and people's militias shall cease and desist from carrying out offensive military campaigns and operations against the uniformed armed personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its paramilitaries, and the Philippine National Police of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines."

'Active defense'

The NPA said that despite the ceasefire, its units will maintain active defense against security forces.  

"All NPA units shall maintain a high degree of alertness and preparation against any hostile actions or movements by enemy armed forces, similar to what transpired during the six-month unilateral ceasefires last year wherein the AFP occupied and forward deployed troops in at least 500 barrios nationwide, committing numerous human rights violations against civilians and their communities," Madlos said.
 
He added that the NPA and other "revolutionary organizations" have received reports of the political killings of at least 129 activists. Many of those killed were farmers in areas affected by land disputes. 
 
Madlos said the NPA has also noted "illegal arrests of more than a thousand activists and their supporters and cases of mass evacuations due to militarization, intense bombings and shellings."
The announcement comes after the Philippine government announced earlier this week its own Suspension of Military Operations against communist rebels.
 
According to the Defense department on Thursday, the unilateral ceasefire with the communist militants would be from 6 p.m. on December 23 up to 6 p.m. December 26. The truce will be in effect again from 6 p.m. on December 30 up to 6 p.m. on January 2.

"We urge those who are waging war against our sovereign government and inflicting harm on the Filipino people to spend this period in reflection and seriously reconsider returning to the fold of law," the Department of National Defense said in a statement.

Government hoped for reciprocal ceasefire

Before the NPA made the announcement, Jesus Dureza, the government's adviser on the peace process, said he hoped the communist rebels, whom the government views as terrorists, would reciprocate the declaration.

He said this move was a sign of the government's "unwavering desire" to bring peace despite the cancellation of peace negotiations due to alleged rebel offensives against security personnel and on businesses amid ongoing talks.

National democratic umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, meanwhile, dared the government to order a pullout of troops from communities as a sign of President Rodrigo Duterte's "sincerity" in his declaration of a ceasefire.
 
Jose Maria Sison, who founded the CPP on December 26, 1968, said on Thursday that the NPA would remain vigilant despite the government’s declaration of the unilateral ceasefire.

“Alerto lang ang NPA laban sa panlilinlang, pagsalakay at okupasyon ng mga baryo ng kaaway (The NPA will continue to be on alert against the deception, attack and occupation of villages by the enemies),” Sison said, referring to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

He said the NPA will not stage attacks if the military and police forces refrain from the same.

“Pero malamang na pakunwari ang SOMO (But the Suspension of Military Operations is probably a sham),” Sison, now a political adviser to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines that represents the communists in peace talks, said.  — Jonathan de Santos

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