“We will provide them all the benefits and opportunities to become productive peaceful citizens,” he said.
Boy Santos/File
DILG won’t propose Yule truce with Reds
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - December 10, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will not recommend a ceasefire with communist rebels during the Christmas holidays.

Instead of a holiday truce, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año yesterday urged communist rebels to go down from their camps in the mountains, surrender and return to the fold of the law.

“We will provide them all the benefits and opportunities to become productive peaceful citizens,” he said.

Año has been critical of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its founder Jose Ma. Sison, whom he previously called a coward for hiding in the Netherlands while the members of the CPP’s armed component the New People’s Army (NPA) continue to fight state security forces.

Año was also included in an alleged list of government officials that the CPP is planning to assassinate for spearheading President Duterte’s counterinsurgency program.

Aside from Año, the other officials on the list are National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., National Commission on Indigenous Peoples chairman Allen Capuyan and Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr, deputy chief of the staff for civil military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The Philippine National Police (PNP), meanwhile, ordered its units to beef up defense of their stations to thwart possible attacks that might be launched by communist rebels in celebration of the CPP’s founding anniversary on Dec. 26.

PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac directed their personnel to be always on alert and vigilant to ensure that rebels will not be able to carry out attacks.

Sison said a bilateral ceasefire between the government and communist rebels could only be realized if the peace negotiations has reached “meaty agreements.”

He said that the National Democratic front of the Philippines (NDFP) could immediately agree to a ceasefire during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

“Having a bilateral ceasefire? If there is already meaty agreements. I think the revolutionary movement, the NDFP, in particular the negotiating party, is willing to have ceasefire during Christmas and New Year as a goodwill measure,” Sison said.

He said any proposed bilateral ceasefire should first be presented in the so-called interim peace agreement.

Sison also urged President Duterte to show “goodwill” by releasing all ailing and elderly consultants and members of the NDFP who are detained in various jails.

In an interview over ANC, Sison said the arrest of NDFP consultants is in violation of the Joint Agreement on the Safety and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG).

“That is a concrete act. Arresting NDFP consultants, that is in violation of the JASIG and I think the President can take the initiative of adopting goodwill measures, like they can be released on humanitarian grounds in the spirit of Christmas and New Year in order to create a climate for the peace negotations,” Sison said.

Sison said the sick and elderly inmates together with the NDFP consultants could be released simultaneously by Duterte.

Sison issued the call while expressing surprise over Duterte’s earlier announcement that he is sending Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) secretary Silvestre Bello III to talk peace with Sison in the Netherlands.

Sison said Bello called him by phone after Duterte announced that he would send Bello to talk peace with Sison.

He said there were backchannel talks way back in 2018.

Iligan City encounter

The military reported that one soldier was killed and another wounded in an encounter with communist NPA rebels in a remote village in Iligan City last Dec. 6.

Members of the Army’s 49th Infantry Battalion were on patrol in sitio Guba, Barangay Kalilangan when they were ambushed by NPA rebels.

A firefight ensued that resulted in the death of one trooper while the rebels withdrew, allegeldy carrying several dead and wounded rebels.

Meanwhile, government troops recovered eight rifles in a shallow pit in Barangay Punglo, Maria Aurora town in Aurora last Friday after a former NPA rebel reported to Army officers the makeshift arms cache of the Kilusang Larangang Gerilya Sierra Madre.

Lt. Col. Jose Mari F. Torrenueva II, commander of the Army’s 91st Infantry Battalion, said the rebel told him about the firearms they buried while escaping the relentless military operations in Aurora.

Torrenueva said the military is offering peace and assistance to rebel returnees and their families.

He said an NPA surrenderee will receive P15,000 initial assistance, P50,000 livelihood assistance, firearms remuneration that will pay P50,000 for one M16 or M14 rifles surrendered, and benefits from the programs of other government agencies. – With Jose rodel Clapano, Lino Cruz, Artemio Dumlao

CEASEFIRE EDUARDO AñO
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